Today, U.S. Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA), Congressmen Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to help our nation meet its future spectrum demand and allow consumers and innovators to utilize the next generation technologies. The Efficient Use of Government Spectrum Act would reallocate and auction the 1755-1780 MHz spectrum block for commercial and innovative uses. Reps. Matsui and Guthrie are co-chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Spectrum Working Group. Reps. Smith and Hunter are members of the House Armed Services Committee, of which Rep. Smith is the Ranking Member.
The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) National Broadband Plan calls for 500 MHz of new commercial spectrum in 10 years. The FCC has projected that by 2014 mobile data traffic will be 35 times 2009 levels, and the resulting deficit in wireless broadband spectrum is expected to be 275 MHz by 2014. To help meet the future spectrum demand, the Efficient use of Government Spectrum Act would auction 25MHz of spectrum between 1755-1780MHz and reallocate it for commercial and innovation purposes.
Following the guidance of the March 2012 National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) report, the legislation gives the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies located in the 1755-1780 MHz band adequate time to relocate off the band. It also ensures adequate protections for reallocated federal systems, including reimbursements for planning costs and the acquisition of state-of-the-art replacement systems. In geographic areas where the President determines clearing of band would threaten essential military capability, spectrum sharing is permitted.
To maximize revenue, the Efficient Use of Government Spectrum Act would require the FCC to pair the 1755-1780 MHz block and the 2155-2180 MHz block (AWS-3), already set for auction, for reallocation and auction for commercial mobile broadband use. Recent estimates have indicated that pairing the 1755-1780 MHz band with 2155-2180 MHz band would raise nearly $12 billion in an auction, where auctioning the 2155-2180 MHz band unpaired would only yield up to $3 billion. Under law, the FCC has until February 2015 to auction the 2155-2180 band.
"We are faced with a spectrum crunch in our country and consumers continue to demand the latest smartphones, tablets, and devices. There is no doubt the future of American innovation and economic growth requires a smart and sound spectrum policy," said Congresswoman Matsui. "This bipartisan legislation demonstrates the need to act swiftly to reallocate the 1755-1780MHz band. The clock continues to tick on the AWS-3 auction, and I believe pairing it with the 1755-1780 MHz band presents our nation with a rare opportunity to spur American innovation and economic growth in the 21st Century. This legislation also seeks to provide the necessary and responsible safeguards for DoD and other federal agencies to relocate, if necessary, by following the recommendations set forth in the March 2012 NTIA Report. Additionally, the proceeds from the auction will go as a "down-payment' towards building out our nation's public safety interoperability network. I am pleased to join with Representatives Guthrie, Smith and Hunter on this bipartisan bill that is a win-win for consumers, and for American innovation."
"Studies estimate that 40% of smartphone owners use the Internet before getting out of bed in the morning and consumers are constantly looking for the next technological advancement," said Congressman Guthrie. "To meet the demands of an ever-growing and advancing society, we must be more efficient when it comes to the use of spectrum, but we also must find ways to free up additional spectrum for commercial use. I am proud to work with Congresswoman Matsui on this bipartisan legislation that benefits both consumers and taxpayers," said Congressman Guthrie.