As promised, Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) have introduced the Mobile Now Act (Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless).
Speaking at a CTIA 5G conference in Washington Tuesday (Feb. 9), Thune had said he had been working on a draft of the bill that could be introduced this week. The bill has been in the works for a while but was pulled from a planned markup last fall.
The legislation is meant to light a fire under next-generation 5G wireless gigabit broadband service and directs various federal agencies to evaluate spectrum bands for 5G, including high-band millimeter wave frequencies.
“The Mobile Now Act is our passport to a 5G future of gigabit wireless connectivity,” said Thune in announcing the bill. “America needs these reforms to continue the era of digital innovation by forging ultra-fast wireless connections with everything from light-bulbs to cars through smart use of our limited spectrum resources
Among the bill highlights are: (1) making a statutory mandate the President's 2010 executive order that the government make 500 MHz of federal spectrum available for private use by 2020; (2) speeding up the placement of wireless structures on federal property; (3) assessing spectrum in the 3 GHz and millimeter wave bands--mostly in the millimeter wave bands -- for the feasibility of authorizing licensed or unlicensed broadband services, and if feasible which is best suited; (4) encouraging "dig once" policies that place broadband conduit when below-ground projects like highway constructions are undertaken; (5) creating a central online inventory of federal government assets available for private-sector broadband deployment; (6) requiring the Commerce Department to issue a report within 18 months on what other legislative or regulatory levers could be moved to push federal entities to relinquish or share spectrum; and (7) allowing spectrum relocation fund balances to be transferred to agencies for transition efforts immediately after an auction rather than after actual receipt of the funds.
“CTIA and its members applaud the bipartisan leadership from chairman Thune and ranking member Nelson for introducing this important bill that will be key to America’s 5G future," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker. "Mobile Now’s comprehensive approach to addressing our nation's mobile needs – from spectrum to infrastructure – will fuel continued innovation, investment and help keep America the global mobile leaders.”