Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel spoke at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) 2022 Spectrum Policy Symposium on September 19. Rosenworcel made it a point to discuss how far the FCC has come in the last 5 years in its dealings with spectrum policy and auctions. Her speech focused on the future of the FCC's relationship with the spectrum and spectrum-related policies, initiatives, rule-making, and innovation.
While policymakers continue to make substantial investments toward universal broadband, these investments still leave gaps in Tribal connectivity. The three primary general-purpose broadband deployment grants accessible to Tribes include the Federal Communication Commission's High-Cost program, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) Reconnect program, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA's) Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.
The Federal Communications Commission announced winning bidders in the 2.5 GHz band auction (Auction 108). In total, 7,872 of the 8,017 offered county-based licenses, or 98 percent of the total inventory, have been sold. With most of the available spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band located in rural areas, this auction provides vital spectrum resources to support wireless services in rural communities.
Auction 108 of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band closed after raising less than $428 million, a considerably lower amount in comparison with what we have seen in other recent auctions. The spectrum is considered mid-band, which is widely seen as supporting the optimum mixture of speed and coverage for 5G.
The “future of spectrum is sharing.” Basically, the airwaves are now so crowded that the old model of “clear and auction” federal spectrum is unsustainable for a society as connected as ours. With Wi-Fi 7 coming up, we will need channel sizes of 320 MHz of contiguous spectrum to get the benefits. Despite doomsday predictions from incumbents that any change in existing spectrum rules would cause massive destructive interference with valuable existing services, the Federal Communication Commission's engineers successfully evaluated the evidence and created rules that brought us new wireless s
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said on August 5 that she is not worried about the impact on the ongoing 2.5 GHz auction if Congress fails to extend the FCC's auction authority by the end of September 2022, when it expires. There is bipartisan support in Congress to extend that authority, but the bill has not made it out of Congress yet and legislators are on their August break, after which they will be primarily focused on getting themselves re-elected, though there is certainly time to extend the authority before the September 30 deadline.
The Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband held a hearing entitled Future of Spectrum to examine the management of spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission's spectrum auction authority is set to expire at the end of September. Congress has a unique opportunity to set future spectrum priorities and coordination goals to encourage efficient spectrum use. The hearing aimed to examine important policy considerations to ensure spectrum is utilized for the greatest benefit to the public.
The House of Representatives passed three communications and technology bills:
The Spectrum Innovation Act of 2022 (HR 7624) would modify and extend the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to auction licenses for the commercial use of the electromagnetic spectrum and authorize certain federal agencies to spend some auction proceeds without further appropriation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that enacting the bill would reduce net direct spending by $2.5 billion over the 2022-2032 period. Outlays after 2032 would increase by approximately $2.4 billion.
A new reverse auction by the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) will allow telecommunication companies to bid on funds. The PSC’s order for the auction, NUSF-131, was entered on June 28. It sets the procedure for the reverse auction to bring broadband services of at least 100 megabits per second to certain census blocks in the state. The affected areas are primarily in northeast and south-central Nebraska, with none of them venturing farther west than McCook (NE). This will be a first-of-its-kind effort for a state to pull off.