UPDATE The House of Representatives unanimously passed Sen. John Kennedy’s (R-LA) 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act. The bill now goes to the White House for President Biden’s signature.
The measure would give the FCC authority for 90 days to issue T-Mobile and other winning bidders the licenses they bought in the 2.5 GHz band auction last year. “I’m thankful that the House has sent this bill to the president’s desk so that the job providers who depend on wireless communications in Louisiana and across America can continue to support rural economies,” Kennedy said. The Senate passed Kennedy’s legislation this September, according to the Associated Press.
In 2022, the FCC auctioned roughly 8,000 licenses to grant companies access to broadband spectrum. T-Mobile won the bulk – 7,156 – of the 2.5 GHz licenses in Auction 108. During the period between when companies paid for their licenses and when the Commission would have distributed the licenses, Congress failed to reauthorize the agency’s ability to auction licenses. The FCC lost its auction authority on March 9 of this year.
Now, companies that bought spectrum licenses in that auction are waiting to receive them. Though telecoms have paid the U.S. government for the licenses, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has said without its spectrum auction authority, the agency can’t transfer previously auctioned licenses to new owners, Inside Towers reported.
The Competitive Carriers Association praised the action and urged President Biden to swiftly sign the measure into law. “This stopgap measure enables the FCC to license 2.5 GHz spectrum won at auction in 2022, and CCA hopes this momentum will carry into Congress fully reinstating FCC spectrum auction authority,” said CCA President/CEO Tim Donovan. “This action is a positive step toward improving 5G connectivity and maintaining U.S. leadership in innovation for all businesses and consumers.”
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief