Sprint, AT&T and others cheer legislation to auction 1755-1780 MHz band

Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced legislation in the House on Thursday that would reallocate the 1755-1780 MHz band from government to commercial use and pair it with the 2155-2180 MHz band in an auction.

Joining those two spectrum bands together for wireless broadband use has long been a goal of the CTIA and wireless carriers. The bill, the Efficient Use of Government Spectrum Act, would also allow for government users to share the airwaves in geographic areas where clearing the spectrum would threaten military uses. That stipulation represents an attempt to gain support from the Department of Defense.

Matsui had introduced similar legislation in the last Congress, and his office said in a statement that the new bill "ensures adequate protections for reallocated federal systems, including reimbursements for planning costs and the acquisition of state-of-the-art replacement systems."

Congress has already directed the FCC to allocate and license the 2155-2180 MHz band (known as AWS-3) by February 2015. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration in March 2012 recommended that the 1755-1850 MHz band be repurposed for commercial wireless use on a shared basis. 

Further, wireless carriers have been open to the concept of sharing spectrum with federal users. For example, the FCC granted T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) request last year to test the concept of sharing spectrum between federal and commercial users in the 1755-1780 MHz band.

Not surprisingly, the Efficient Use of Government Spectrum Act drew cheers from the CTIA and wireless carriers, including AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile. "As Congress and stakeholders in the administration and the FCC discuss how to move forward, the Matsui-Guthrie approach offers a path that can deliver a win for government users and industry alike, and most importantly for taxpayers, since linking the 1755 to 1780 band with the upcoming auction of the 2155 to 2180 band is likely to produce substantially higher revenue than an unpaired auction of the 2155 to 2180 band," CTIA President Steve Largent said in a statement.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Multichannel News article
- see this PhoneScoop article

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