The introduction of the Spectrum Pipeline Act represents an important step toward attempting to restore the FCC’s auction authority.

Amidst recent headlines dominated by President Biden’s 2025 budget proposal and the passage of a major spending package, Americans can be forgiven if they haven’t heard about a new Senate spectrum pipeline bill.

However, this spectrum pipeline bill dubbed the Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2024, could have far-reaching consequences for America’s leadership in the spectrum landscape. Congress would be wise to consider its merits.

Introduced early last month, the Act addresses the immediate need to restore the Federal Communication Commission’s spectrum auctioning authority and establish a robust pipeline of mid-band spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed commercial uses.

Neither issue is addressed in the Biden administration’s new National Spectrum Strategy (NSS). This makes their inclusion in this bill all the more important for establishing a comprehensive U.S. spectrum policy that is pro-consumer, technology-neutral, and tackles the growing need for more commercial spectrum.

First, the Act would reauthorize the FCC’s auction authority through September 30, 2027. For more than a year, the FCC has been unable to host spectrum auctions, where commercial providers can bid on exclusive access to specific radio frequencies necessary for building wireless networks and unlocking consumer benefits. As the American Consumer Institute has previously noted, these auctions play a vital role in distributing spectrum licenses in a manner that is both fairer and more efficient than the old system of “hearings and lotteries” which were, in many ways, glorified beauty pageants.

 They also serve as a major source of government revenue. Over the last 30 years, FCC auctions have generated more than $233 billion for the U.S. Treasury. That’s money that can be used to fund government programs and services, such as the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is in desperate need of a cash infusion.

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Nate Scherer is a policy analyst with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit us at www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on X @ConsumerPal. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.