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senate Bill S. 2555

Freeing Up the Airwaves for More Wireless Service

Argument in favor

This bill would free up desperately needed airwaves for wireless use, and would speed up the process of moving to 5G technologies.

operaman's Opinion
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06/06/2016
Yes, we need FREE Airwaves for WiFi. Same as free college and diapers for the students. Must be a dream I'm in. Certainly more bandwidth is necessary.
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bhiguma's Opinion
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06/20/2016
Due to competition, the private sector will always be able to work more efficiently and with more quality than the government. The government is a monopoly within itself and has no incentive to be cost effective or efficient. Therefore, it is better for more airwaves to be available to the private sector. This would allow for innovation, decreased prices, and higher quality products.
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Sid's Opinion
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06/12/2016
With 5G technology quickly becoming a reality this is perfectly necessary.
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Argument opposed

Reallocating spectrum for wireless would be a long and costly process, and could hurt broadcasters, federal agencies, and others who require spectrum.

Tina's Opinion
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06/12/2016
Another Republican caving to their Corporate Overlords. Pressuring government agencies to free up spectrum so private carriers can make profits on it. Regardless of what our government needs to function and keep us safe. Grrrr.
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Jason's Opinion
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06/14/2016
This is allocating spectrum for PRIVATE use, not for public use. A private corporation will purchase it, and sell access to it. It would be far more beneficial to more people to allocate more spectrum that can be freely used, like the 2.4ghz and 5.8ghz bands that have made Wi-Fi great.
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Aly's Opinion
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06/14/2016
So that technologies like LiFi can be introduced to take the stress off the airwaves so that everything doesn't have to be rebuilt
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What is Senate Bill S. 2555?

The Mobile Now Act would accommodate Americans' increasing need for mobile wireless service, by freeing up space on the airways and making it available to commercial wireless companies.

In 2010, President Obama and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) each laid out plans to free up 500 megahertz of spectrum — including some of the 60 percent of spectrum held by federal agencies — for commercial mobile and fixed wireless broadband use by 2020. 

This legislation would require the FCC and the Department of Commerce to follow through on freeing up those 500 MHz.

Impact

Mobile wireless carriers; mobile customers; the Federal Communications Commission; the Department of Commerce; federal agencies and other entities who may be asked to give up, sell, or share their slices of spectrum

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2555

$220.00 Million
CBO estimates the bill would cost $85 million to implement over the 2017-2021 period, and would increase net direct spending by $135 million over the 2017-2026 period.

More Information

In Depth: So what is spectrum?

As CNET explains, all wireless communications signals — for televisions, radios, GPS devices, cell phones, smart appliances, etc — travel through the air via radio frequency. This is spectrum. For example, a radio tuned to 97.7 FM will pick up a signal from a station broadcasting at 97.7 megahertz. Two stations broadcasting from the same city at the same frequency will interfere with one another.

Like radio stations, wireless operators like AT&T and Verizon cannot use the same frequencies in the same areas at the same time, without causing interference. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctions off pieces of spectrum to mobile carriers, and keeps track of who is licensed to use what.

Over the years, the FCC has awarded spectrum between 700 MHz and 2.6 GHz to mobile phone carriers. With increased mobile use, this range has been almost fully allocated, meaning there is no more spectrum for wireless companies to purchase if they want to increase their service or capacity. This is complicated by the fact that smartphones use 24 times more data — tablets can use 122 more — than a flip phone.

As we approach a spectrum shortage, this bill directs federal agencies to figure out a way to reallocate the airways and make more room for commercial wireless use.

As Paige Atkins of the Office of Spectrum Management explains:

“Spectrum is a finite resource. We can’t make more of it, but we can work to manage it more efficiently than we did in the past when demand was not as high. And there are many competing needs for this spectrum. Federal government agencies also have critical and escalating needs for spectrum to support their important missions and have invested substantial resources on technologies that rely on spectrum. Moving these systems to new bands in order to make more spectrum available for commercial purposes takes considerable planning and can cost billions of dollars.”


In addition to requiring the government to meet its goal of freeing up 500 MHz, the bill would:

Conduct spectrum assessments
The bill directs the Department of Commerce to evaluate several spectrum bands (that are currently used for other purposes) for potential wireless use. Some of these frequencies are specifically ideal for advancing 5G wireless technologies. The Department will assess the feasibility of commercial mobile or fixed terrestrial wireless operations in these bands, and if feasible, determine which frequencies are best suited. The Department will also evaluate how this would affect any federal and non-federal entities already operating in these ranges.

Speed up 5G infrastructure
Mobile carriers are looking to move to faster 
5G wireless, which will require smaller antenna and infrastructure systems than current technology. This legislation requires federal agencies to speed up the placement of wireless structures on federal property.
 
Encourage "dig once" policies
The bill encourages the federal adoption of cost-saving "dig once" policies, where broadband wires are laid in the ground at the same time as other underground infrastructure work (such as highway construction). 

Reallocate incentives
The bill directs the Department of Commerce to issue a report on additional ways to incentivize federal entities to turn over or share their spectrum with non-federal spectrum users. 


Of Note: Sponsoring Sen. John Thune said in a statement:

“America needs these reforms to continue the era of digital innovation by forging ultra-fast wireless connections with everything from light-bulbs to cars through smart use of our limited spectrum resources.”


Media:

AKA

Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act

Official Title

A bill to provide opportunities for broadband investment, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedFebruary 11th, 2016
    Yes, we need FREE Airwaves for WiFi. Same as free college and diapers for the students. Must be a dream I'm in. Certainly more bandwidth is necessary.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    Another Republican caving to their Corporate Overlords. Pressuring government agencies to free up spectrum so private carriers can make profits on it. Regardless of what our government needs to function and keep us safe. Grrrr.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Due to competition, the private sector will always be able to work more efficiently and with more quality than the government. The government is a monopoly within itself and has no incentive to be cost effective or efficient. Therefore, it is better for more airwaves to be available to the private sector. This would allow for innovation, decreased prices, and higher quality products.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    This is allocating spectrum for PRIVATE use, not for public use. A private corporation will purchase it, and sell access to it. It would be far more beneficial to more people to allocate more spectrum that can be freely used, like the 2.4ghz and 5.8ghz bands that have made Wi-Fi great.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    So that technologies like LiFi can be introduced to take the stress off the airwaves so that everything doesn't have to be rebuilt
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    With 5G technology quickly becoming a reality this is perfectly necessary.
    Like (3)
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    Free markets are more efficient at allocating resources than agencies will ever be
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    If we free up a significant amount of our airwaves for corporations to provide more wifi, they should come with concessions from those corporations. For example, they have to provide wifi for free in places they are using the additional bandwidth and it has to pass regular inspections for speed and reliability. They should also be required to bring their advertised speeds in line with European standards (which are much faster).
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    Yes, but please explain why it costs 220 million to free up an existing frequency range. Have the Feds figured out a way to meter portions of the radio wave spectrum?
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    Yes get the gov't noses out of the way.
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    Yes! The customers and businesses should have more access to these airwaves. My question is, why did the federal government have a monopoly of this airwaves in the first place? And why would it cost to free them up?
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    What's blocking our airwaves to begin with lmao
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    Utilize the current projected funding to free up spectrum and expand the use of LiFi to end the dependencies upon large corporate conglomerates.
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    more free WiFi and less control by big corporations
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    The more that people have access to information, the more likely there will be a better informed electorate.
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    Public airwaves should be free for the public
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    technology requires faster and faster service
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    It's growing
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    Tes. End the FCC. It's outdated and a hinderance to technological advancement.
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    Compare America and Europe and you'll notice Europe has much faster, cheaper internet; why? Profit, capitalism holding back technological and cultural advancement, the usual. Let's change that.
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