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Bill would pay agencies to give up spectrum

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., Friday introduced a bill designed to streamline the process of paying federal agencies to relocate from government radio frequency spectrum that has been allocated for commercial use.

Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and John Ensign, R-Nev., are original cosponsors. The House Energy and Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee marked up similar legislation Wednesday.

"Spectrum is a critical resource for our armed services, and any relocation process should consider the needs of our military operations," McCain said. "I believe that this bill successfully provides for the ability for our military and other federal agencies to have the confidence that their relocation costs will be fully reimbursed, while providing commercial bidders with certainty regarding the full cost of the right to use the spectrum and the ability to use it in a timely fashion."

The bill would establish a new federal spectrum relocation fund, so that when spectrum occupied by a federal agency is auctioned, proceeds from the auction would be deposited into the fund. Federal agencies could then withdraw money to cover the expense of the relocation, McCain said.