The legislation this week asked the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission to conduct the examination and complete it within 180 days. Kerry and Snowe said their bill represents the initial step in developing a comprehensive assessment of how best to use the public spectrum.
Kerry, who is chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, hailed last year's 700-MHz auction and the FCC's efforts to see that unlicensed devices can operate in the nearby white-spaces band.
"These two initiatives are evidence of how valuable spectrum is and how it serves as fertile grounds for innovation," Kerry said in a statement. "We need to make sure we're making as much of it available to innovators and consumers as possible."
Most of the spectrum sold in the 700-MHz auction, which produced nearly $20 billion for the U.S. Treasury, was acquired by Verizon Wireless and AT&T and hasn't been put into use yet. The white-spaces bands, too, aren't in use as of yet.
Snowe said the inventory review will represent "the first step to addressing comprehensive spectrum reform and will work to enhance advanced communication services to keep people online and in touch."
Called the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, the legislation was also cosponsored by Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. The legislation calls for an examination of all spectrum bands between 300 MHz and 3.5 GHz.
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