May 23, 2022
Extending the FCC’s Spectrum Auction Authority
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority to auction exclusive radio spectrum licenses to expand 5G services will expire in September absent congressional action. In a new insight, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jeffrey Westling contends that a shorter reauthorization of the agency’s authority than the typical 10 years would allow Congress to establish a new spectrum pipeline, which will provide the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) with more accurate revenue projections from spectrum auctions.
The FCC’s congressionally granted authority to auction spectrum bandwidth is set to expire in just a few months. While lawmakers may find it expedient to simply grant a long-term blanket reauthorization, they should consider a short-term reauthorization, perhaps two years, instead. This would allow Congress to first establish a spectrum pipeline for future reallocation of 5G bandwidth, which in turn would give CBO more certainty when calculating future revenue from spectrum auctions and help Congress offset spending for other projects. Finally, this would be beneficial to the U.S. economy as it would further the rollout of 5G and the devices reliant on this technology.