Two US politicians announced a plan that will restore the US Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) authority to conduct spectrum auctions, roughly one year after the legislative body allowed it to lapse for the first time in 30 years.

Today Senators John Thune and Ted Cruz introduced the Spectrum Pipeline Act that could restore the FCC’s authority to auction off 1250MHz of licenced spectrum for mobile broadband services.

The bill, if passed by the US Senate, US Congress and President Joe Biden, will cover the band of frequencies between 1.3GHz and 13.2GHz.

Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of trade group CTIA, commended Cruz and Thune for introducing the bill and noted it would “create a strong pipeline of full-power, licenced spectrum that will support Americans’ growing wireless data use, protect our national security, and infuse real competition in the home broadband market”.

Mike Ferguson, EVP of federal legislative relations for AT&T, stated the bill would provide “a much-needed influx of this crucial resource that is necessary to meet America’s insatiable demand for wireless connectivity”.

The FCC lost its spectrum auction authority in March 2023 after the House of Representatives passed legislation in the previous month to enable an extension but the Senate was unable to agree on how to enact it.

In December 2023, the House of Representatives voted in favour of the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act, which was a stopgap measure that gave the regulator temporary authority to complete spectrum transfers to winners of past auctions.

Last week T-Mobile US announced it won FCC approval to deploy the 2.5GHz spectrum it won in an auction in 2022.

The FCC has raised more than $233 billion in revenues for the US government from the auctions.