Skip to main content

House Subcommittee Passes Spectrum Bills

WASHINGTON: A House subcommittee today passed two bills focused on organizing the radio frequency spectrum. H.R. 3125 would require the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to track down who and what is using the airwaves from 225 MHz and 3.7 Ghz (with a provision to go up to 10 GHz), including an estimate of how many repeaters, transmitters and end users there are in a given frequency. H.R. 3019, the “Spectrum Relocation Improvement Act of 2009,” would create reimbursement framework for incumbent licensees who may be bumped off their spectrum in a reallocation scheme.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet marked up both bills and approved them by voice vote. The intent is to eventually free up spectrum for 4G wireless services and for the National Broadband Plan being created by the FCC.

Just one amendment was added, a substitution to H.R. 3125 from subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-Va.) to protect incumbent spectrum users whose identity could compromise national security. Previous language covered only federal agencies. The amendment also directed the NTIA and the FCC to update the inventory regularly.

The bills will move next to the full Energy and Commerce Committee. Similar spectrum legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is pending before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Steve Largent, president of the wireless lobby, the CTIA, kept up his campaign to reallocate broadcast spectrum to the cell phone service providers.

“We hope that the inventory and relocation improvement processes will precede and follow, respectively, a process to reallocate significant spectrum for advanced wireless services,” he said in a response to the subcommittee vote.

(For coverage of the subcommittee hearing on the bills, see “Airwaves: Measure First, Reallocate Second.”)