SPECTRUM NOW bill introduced in both chambers

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The Supplementing the Pipeline for Efficient Control of The Resources for Users Making New Opportunities for Wireless (SPECTRUM NOW) Act has been introduced to ensure there is enough money to fund efforts to get federal spectrum users to give up spectrum or share spectrum with commercial users. Sens Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) in the Senate, and Reps Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep Brett Guthrie (R-KY) in the House have introduced the bipartisan bill. It "would allow the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to use existing Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF) funding (approximately $8 billion) to support research-related activities that examine the feasibility of federal spectrum users relocating or sharing spectrum with non-federal users as long as those monies are not already obligated to support federal agencies."

The SRF was created in 2004, but in 2015, the Spectrum Pipeline Act broadened the expenses that could be covered by the fund and, while it also authorized $500 million specifically to exploring spectrum re-purposing, that money is running out, say the Senators. But the bill also says the SRF research money can only be spent if 1) "a research and development (R&D) plan by the incumbent federal spectrum user to explore relocating of sharing spectrum has been submitted and approved by the Technical Panel, which was established by Congress and is composed of three members representing the NTIA, OMB, and Federal Communications Commission; 2) as of the date of certification to Congress by NTIA and OMB that the R&D plan is approved, Spectrum Pipeline Act funds are insufficient to support that R&D plan; and 3) R&D payments will leave sufficient amounts in the SRF to complete ongoing transition plans from previous auctions."

SPECTRUM NOW bill introduced in both houses