Senior staffers for the Commerce committees, speaking Friday at a Practising Law Institute conference, talked up a couple spectrum bills. One measure getting a lot of attention: the AIRWAVES Act, S. 1682 (115), from Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). “I hope we’re able to move that bill or at least parts of it through another vehicle,” said Crystal Tully, GOP policy director for the Senate Commerce Committee. Hassan spokeswoman Ricki Eshman told MT of “productive meetings” and expressed hope for an AIRWAVES markup in 2018. David Goldman, Democratic chief counsel for House Energy and Commerce, suggested during Friday’s panel that a bipartisan House companion could be forthcoming involving Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), ranking member of E&C’s telecom panel. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) is also believed to be interested.
These two bills are important to expanding broadband in rural areas across the nation, see the highlighted blue text in summary below.
Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum Act or the AIRWAVES Act
This bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complete auctions during each of the next three calendar years that will grant new broadcast licenses for specified frequency spectrum bands.
The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are directed to identify frequencies in specified spectrum bands that may be utilized for: (1) non-federal unlicensed use; and (2) commercial licensed use.
The FCC must allocate 10% of proceeds from each of the spectrum band auctions specified in the bill to expand wireless infrastructure in rural areas that are underserved or unserved.
The FCC shall conduct a study on how unlicensed frequency spectrum bands can be utilized for: (1) the provision of healthcare in rural areas, (2) distance learning, and (3) facilitating innovations in agriculture.
H. R. 4109
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to provide for the deposits of bidders in auctions of spectrum frequencies to be deposited in the Treasury.