The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a March 3 mark-up for the Mobile Now (Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless) Act.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) two weeks ago introduced the bill.
A committee mark-up is an executive session at which bills are debated, amended and, if all goes well, approved for consideration by, in this case, the full Senate.
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.
The bill has been in the works for a while, but was pulled from a Nov. 18 markup because committee members, notably Democrats but also Republicans, had not gotten sufficient notice and were not ready to amend and vote out the bill.
Apparently it is now ready for prime committee time.