Budget Deal Paves Way for Further Spectrum Auctions

The “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015” that just passed the House after being unveiled earlier this week mandates further spectrum auctions as part of a broader push to maximize revenue from nontraditional (i.e. non-tax) sources. The FCC has already been preparing for the March 2016 auction, the third and final installment in a series previously authorized as part of the 2012 deal on payroll taxes.

In addition to raising the debt ceiling through 2017 and boosting spending limits, this year’s deal benchmarks an additional 30 MHz in continuous bands of at least 10 MHz for reallocation to non-federal or shared use. The process must begin no later than Jan 1, 2022 (the auction itself can be held no later than July 2024), while the FCC must report to Congress on the possibility of releasing a further 100 MHz in the 3550-3650 range.  The legislation also explicitly excludes sales in the 1675-1695 MHz range,  preserving the space for National Weather Service (NWS) weather balloons in the face of earlier proposals to reallocate a portion of that range for private sector satellite use.

Full Text of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015:


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