President Signs MOBILE NOW Act, Other Key Technology Bills into Law

March 23, 2018

WASHINGTON– U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today issued the following statement after President Donald Trump signed the omnibus bill that includes several committee proposals. Among the proposals that were included in the bipartisan budget bill are the MOBILE NOW Act, and FAA reauthorization through September 30, 2018.

“MOBILE NOW is a down payment on next-generation communications,” said Thune. “By ensuring spectrum is available for new technologies, including 5G, and making it easier to deploy the networks that will deliver better, faster internet to rural areas and across the country, MOBILE NOW helps secure America’s leadership in the future of communications technology.”

MOBILE NOW was originally introduced on February 11, 2016 and passed out of the Commerce Committeeon March 3, 2016. Sen. Thune reintroduced the bill on the first day of the 115th Congress in 2017, it was reported out of committee on January 24, 2017 and passed the Senate on August 3, 2017. Earlier this month MOBILE NOW was included in the RAY BAUM’s Act which passed the House on March 6, 2018.

Key Senate Commerce Committee measures signed into law today: 

  • S.19 – MOBILE NOW Act (Sens. Thune and Nelson) – Boosts the development of next-generation gigabit wireless broadband services, including 5G, by ensuring more spectrum is identified for private sector use and by reducing the red tape associated with building broadband networks. It requires that 255 megahertz of spectrum be identified for fixed and mobile wireless broadband use by 2022 – at least 100 megahertz for unlicensed use and at least 100 megahertz for licensed use.  Further, it identifies mid-band and high-band spectrum to be studied for possible commercial use.  The bill also reflects: 
    • An amendment from Sen. Heller to speed the deployment of broadband facilities on federal lands by streamlining the application process and requiring timely action on applications.
    • An amendment from Sens. Schatz and Moran to create a national policy and national plan on unlicensed spectrum.
    • Amendments from Sens. Schatz, Gardner, and Moran to promote the availability of unlicensed spectrum to meet consumer demands for telecommunications services.
    • An amendment from Sens. Fischer and Klobuchar to promote rural wireless service by requiring the FCC to craft rules to offer incentives to spectrum licensees to make portions of their spectrum available to small businesses for deployment in rural areas.
    • An amendment from Sens. Klobuchar and Gardner to create new opportunities for state Departments of Transportation and broadband providers to coordinate excavations to ease the installation of broadband infrastructure alongside highway projects (often referred to as “Dig Once”).
    • An amendment from Sens. Markey and Manchin to direct the federal government to study ways it can provide additional incentives (or facilitate such incentives from the private sector) to federal entities to make spectrum available for commercial use.
    • An amendment from Sen. Booker to require a study on the availability of unlicensed spectrum and wireless networks in low-income neighborhoods around the country.  The report would include recommendations on how to overcome barriers to deployment of networks in those neighborhoods, and how to encourage greater broadband adoption there as well.
    • An amendment from Sen. Udall to instruct NTIA to create a national spectrum challenge prize competition to encourage new technologies for spectrum efficiency.
    • An amendment from Sens. Cantwell and Udall to direct an FCC report to Congress documenting the state of broadband coverage on tribal lands.  The FCC must follow up on that report with a proceeding to address broadband deficiencies on tribal lands.
    • An amendment from Sen. Peters to encourage states and localities to participate in the National Broadband Facilities Asset Database.
    • An amendment from Sens. Daines and Manchin to require the FCC, in making determinations regarding spectrum use, to consider the importance of the deployment of wireless broadband services in rural America.
    • Added Senate-passed language to streamline broadband infrastructure sitting on federal lands and accelerate the availability of funds in the Spectrum Relocation Fund to clear spectrum sooner.
    • Clarified language to authorize funding to address a shortfall in funds available to displaced broadcasters following the incentive auction.
  • S.174 – Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2017 (Sens. Heller and Schatz) – Consolidates FCC reports on voice, video, and data delivery while repealing outdated reports that are no longer necessary.
  • S. 134 – Spoofing Prevention Act (Sens. Nelson and Fischer) – Gives the FCC and law enforcement additional authority to stop fraudulent telephone calls from persons using false caller identification information.  Also provides consumers with new tools and information to identify and prevent these illegal scam calls, and directs GAO to conduct a study on new technologies to stop these calls.
  • S. 102 – Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017 (Sen. Cantwell) –Helps speed the recovery of communications infrastructure after natural disasters, and directs the Federal government to study additional ways to make sure that existing infrastructure can survive during those disasters. 
  • S. 1632 – Viewer and Listener Protection Act (Sens. Moran and Schatz) –Makes available additional funds to TV stations that are moving channels as a result of the “repack” necessitated by the incentive auction.  It also dedicates federal support to alleviate costs borne by radio stations as a result of the repack.  
  • S. 1621 – Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 (Sens. Wicker and Manchin) –Requires the FCC to standardize its wireless coverage data.  With better coverage data, the FCC can ensure that funds provided for expanding rural broadband infrastructure are equitably applied between rural and urban areas. 
  • S. 2210 – FCC Chief Information Officer Parity Act (Sens. Moran and Udall) – Gives the FCC’s Chief Information Officer authority to participate in decisions regarding the Commission’s planning on information technology.
  • S. 2319 (114th Congress) – Spectrum Auction Deposits (Sen. Thune) – Chairman Thune first introduced legislation in 2015 to address a technical problem identified by the FCC preventing it from receiving upfront payments from bidders in spectrum auctions and depositing them into the U.S. Treasury.  These upfront payments will allow the FCC to confirm a bidder’s ability to follow through on their commitments, an essential step to managing federal auctions in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • S. 2644 (114th Congress) – FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016 (Sens. Thune and Nelson) – This legislation contained many provisions that were ultimately included in the agreement reached today to reauthorize the FCC for the first time in 28 years.  Many of these provisions were championed by members of the Senate Commerce Committee.
  • S. 1261 (114th Congress) – Wireless Telecommunications Tax and Fee Collection Fairness Act(Sens. Manchin and Moran) – Harmonizes state laws regarding what entity is responsible for collecting and remitting certain types of taxes and fees assessed on wireless services.