Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kennedy introduces bill to require FCC to release previously auctioned spectrum, expand 5G access to rural Americans

by BIZ Magazine

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today introduced the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to release previously auctioned spectrum in order to expand 5G broadband access to rural communities.

The legislation would temporarily grant the FCC auction authority so that it may complete spectrum transfers and allow broadband services to provide 5G network coverage to Americans in rural areas.

“Louisiana’s economy relies on small business, and small businesses rely on broadband. Currently, bureaucratic red tape is standing in the way of Louisianians’ wireless communications. My 5G SALE Act offers a simple solution for providing rural Americans with access to broadband by giving the FCC the authority to finish transferring already auctioned spectrum to companies who offer 5G coverage,” said Kennedy. 

Background:

The FCC auctioned off roughly 8,000 licenses to grant companies access to America’s broadband spectrum. These licenses are the only way companies can legally use the radio waves that bring 5G to customers. These wavelengths are therefore highly valuable.

During the period between when companies paid for their licenses and when the FCC should have parceled the licenses out, Congress failed to reauthorize the FCC’s ability to auction off licenses altogether. Now, each company that bought spectrum in that auction is waiting to receive its transfer. Despite payments being complete, the FCC says it no longer has the authority to grant those licenses.

Kennedy’s legislation would grant the FCC a one-time, temporary authority to issue licenses purchased in auctions that were held before March 9, 2023 (when the FCC’s Congressional authorization ended).

Full text of the 5G SALE Act is available here.

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