Bipartisan members of Congress last week introduced legislation to make more funding available for federal agencies to evaluate their use of spectrum.

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who lead the Senate's communication subcommittee, unveiled the SPECTRUM NOW Act in that chamber, while Congressional Spectrum Caucus co-chairs Reps. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Doris Matsui, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the House.

The measure would increase the amount of money, allocated under a 2015 law, available to federal agencies seeking to study their spectrum efficiency or share their spectrum holdings with commercial wireless services.

Proponents suggested that the current $500 million from the Spectrum Relocation Fund is running low and could prevent future spectrum research; the measure would open about $8 billion in overall SRF funding to agencies with an approved spectrum R&D plan.

"It is important for Congress to consider ways to support innovation in this crucial sector and to free up existing resources accordingly," Wicker said in a statement.

The bill would also stipulate that the approved plans must exceed the current funds and that the overall SRF must maintain sufficient funds to "complete ongoing transition plans from previous auctions."

Wireless industry groups, including CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association, praised the bills.

"This timely bipartisan legislation will unlock funds to free up additional spectrum for commercial wireless use that will help spur new innovation and services for consumers," CTIA Government Affairs SVP Kelly Cole said in a statement.