Senate Commerce Committee Passes MOBILE NOW Act

BY John Howes
March 3, 2016

Washington — The Senate Commerce Committee approved the MOBILE NOW Act Thursday, adopting multiple amendments from Senators on the committee.  The bill, co-sponsored by Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), seeks to boost the development of 5G by promoting more spectrum for commercial use and streamlining wireless network deployment.  

  • The bill would require that the Department of Commerce and the FCC make available for mobile and fixed wireless broadband at least 255 MHz below 6 GHz of Federal and non-Federal spectrum.  
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would be required to evaluate the feasibility of allowing mobile or fixed terrestrial wireless operations in several of the “Millimeter Wave” bands between 24 and 86 GHz, which will be important for 5G.
  • The bill would direct the FCC to take action on its small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) proceeding by the end of the year.  
  • Executive agencies would be required to use common applications for easements and rights-of-way requests and master contracts for communications facility installations on Federal property.  
  • The bill also promotes the creation a national database of Federal property capable of supporting the installation of communications facilities, which would aid private-sector broadband deployment.

Overall, the bill takes a balanced approach to spectrum policy that recognizes the importance of both licensed unlicensed spectrum to expand broadband access.

This legislation would be a step toward better mobile infrastructure and solving the spectrum crunch. We thank Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their efforts and urge the Senate to move forward this year on legislation to improve broadband deployment.

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