The House is set to take up a payroll tax cut package Friday that includes legislation that would provide more spectrum, both to fill the insatiable demand for wireless technologies and to help firefighters, police and other first responders build a broadband public safety network that's been promised since 9/11.
The deal has bipartisan support among the top leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee - a big change from the divisions seen when the Communications and Technology first marked up its version of the spectrum legislation in December.
"I cannot tell you how happy I am about this," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who championed the bill's provisions to help create the public safety network.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose agency will play a pivotal role, signaled that he is not entirely satisfied with modified language affecting auctions to be arranged to reallocate the frequencies and raise cash.
"I'm pleased that Congress has recognized the vital importance of freeing up more spectrum for mobile broadband, both licensed and unlicensed, although the legislation could limit the FCC's ability to maximize the amount and benefits of recovered spectrum," Genachowski said in a statement.
A wide range of industry and public interest groups applauded the spectrum legislation including the wireless industry association CTIA, the Public Safety Alliance and Free Press.