Wednesday, December 8, 2004

U.S. Senate Passes Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act

The U.S. Senate passed a Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (H.R. 5419) to facilitate the clearing and auction of 90 MHz of spectrum held by the federal government for Advanced Wireless Services. The bill also includes funding for state and local governments for wireless E911 and addresses accounting issues involving the Universal Service Fund. The legislative package, which was passed by the House of Representatives last month, now goes to the President for consideration.

When fully developed, the wireless E-911 system will enable law enforcement personnel and emergency responders to pinpoint the location of callers using wireless handsets. Grants from the $250 million fund would be available to states that have not diverted money from their dedicated E-911 accounts.

  • In November 2002, the FCC first allocated the additional 90 MHz of spectrum in the 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands that can be used to provide new advanced wireless services, i.e. 3G or IMT-2000. The spectrum was previously used by the federal government, microwave licensees and multipoint distribution services.

  • In October 2003, the FCC implemented service rules for the 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz spectrum bands, effectively opening the bands for new 3G. The new rules cover application procedures, licensing, technical operations, and competitive bidding. The spectrum will be licensed by geographic areas under the FCC's market-oriented, competitive-bidding rules. The licenses for these bands will have an initial 15-year term with 10-year renewal terms. Licensees will be required to show that they have provided substantial service by the end of the license term; however, no interim construction requirements have been imposed.


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