Press Releases

Washington, D.C.– Today. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transporation and the Subcomittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, joined with subcommittee chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and fellow members Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) to introduce the “Wireless Innovation Act of 2015,” a bill to reallocate spectrum used by the federal government for commercial wireless services, ensure greater transparency and accountability of the federal government’s spectrum use, and promote wireless innovation and deployment.

“Mobile traffic is expected to grow eleven-fold between 2013 and 2018, according to industry projections,” Johnson said. “Industry is clearly doing its part to prepare, bidding an unprecedented $41 billion on the most recent FCC spectrum auction. This bill will require the federal government to do its part, opening up more spectrum opportunities, expediting FCC review of spectrum transactions on the secondary market, and streamlining the process for broadband infrastructure to locate on federal buildings. The real solution to broadband openness and availability is breaking down regulatory barriers, not building them up. This bill is an important first step and I look forward to working with Senators Rubio, Wicker, Ayotte, and Gardner to continue to find ways to promote broadband deployment.”

“As wireless broadband and Internet connected devices continue to grow, the U.S. must continue to lead the world in wireless innovation and technology by making sure the federal government is using its spectrum in an efficient and responsible manner and freeing up additional spectrum for commercial use,” Rubio said. “The Wireless Innovation Act promotes the deployment of wireless infrastructure on federally owned properties to increase wireless coverage and capacity, so Americans can access 21st century technologies and so the infrastructure is there to support the Internet of Things. This policy would also provide transparency on the use and value of federal spectrum and informs the public on how federal entities use a scarce resource. Passing this bill will promote economic growth and innovation while ensuring that consumers continue enjoying the benefits of wireless technology.”

“This bill encourages efficient use of spectrum to meet the soaring consumer demand for greater wireless capacity,” said Wicker. “As the number of wireless-only households in Mississippi and across the nation continues to grow, it is critical that we evaluate federal spectrum use to ensure that this finite, taxpayer-owned resource is best allocated to serve the needs of the American people. I applaud Senator Rubio for his leadership on this issue.”

“New Hampshire desperately needs better connection to wireless services, with gaps in coverage throughout large portions of Coos, Grafton, Sullivan, and Cheshire Counties,” Ayotte said. “Expanding access to communications technology in the Granite State is a top priority to ensure that businesses can grow and create jobs, and this bill will promote wireless deployment and innovation, putting into motion the efficient transfer of spectrum so that carriers are able to acquire crucial spectrum needed to build out to rural areas.”

“In today’s economy, more spectrum means more jobs,” said Gardner. “Opening up more spectrum for commercial use will foster more innovation, more entrepreneurship, and more growth in mobile data. I’m proud to support this Act, and I’ll work hard to ensure it passes.”

The Wireless Innovation Act of 2015 would:

  • Require NTIA to identify and reallocate 200 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz and currently allocated primarily to the federal government for commercial mobile use (140 MHz for licensed use; 40 MHz for shared; 20 MHz for unlicensed use);
  • Establish an auction pipeline to ensure the 200 MHz of spectrum identified by NTIA is reallocated in a clear, predictable manner;
  • Allocate portions of the auction proceeds be made available to federal entities for conducting research and development and other engineering activities to:
    • Identify alternative spectrum (either federal or non-federal) that existing systems can be relocated to,
    • Develop technologies that will allow existing systems to be relocated and shared with other Federal systems, and
    • Develop cost and time estimates for relocating existing systems;
  • Require OMB to report to Congress details of how agencies are using these funds so Congress knows how agencies are utilizing the funds and what bands agencies are considering for potential use;
  • Promote secondary spectrum markets by expediting the FCC review period for routine license transfers;
  • Require OMB to review agency requests for new or modified frequency assignments for a wireless service by requiring agencies to submit an analysis addressing issues including whether commercial services could be used instead of new or modified frequencies, whether other Federal spectrum could be used or shared, and whether the service requires frequency below 3 GHz;
  • Provide transparency on the use and value of federal spectrum by requiring NTIA to develop a framework to determine the commercial value of each federal spectrum band, and requiring federal agencies to report the opportunity cost borne for each spectrum band that is entirely under the control of that agency as part of its budget; and
  • Promote the deployment of wireless infrastructure on federally owned buildings and property by streamlining the process by creating a standard fee and master application to grant real property interests.

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