Communications and Technology Subcommittee to Continue Jobs-Focused Agenda in 113th Congress

December 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today previewed some of the subcommittee’s 2013-2014 agenda during a keynote speech delivered at a forum hosted by the Villanova School of Business in Washington, D.C. Building on the successes of the last two years, Walden announced the subcommittee will continue to consider policies that foster innovation, encourage investment, and protect freedom through a job-focused lens.

At this morning’s forum, Walden said, “Our economy still struggles with the worst recovery since the Great Depression. It may fall even further in the face of tax hike talks, runaway spending, and the fiscal cliff. There are bright spots in the economy though, including the communications sector. The industry continues to grow, to innovate, and to invest. While the industry continues to grow, it cannot sustain this kind of investment if we continue to regulate voice, video, audio, and data services under a regime that pretends we still live in an analog world run by three networks and one phone company. We need to eliminate outdated regulations to meet the promises and challenges of the Internet era. We need to harness the free market to promote investment, encourage innovation, and create jobs. And we certainly don’t need to shackle new services with old rules.”

During the 112th Congress, Walden’s Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act was signed into law as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. In 2013, the subcommittee will exercise oversight over implementation of spectrum policy. Walden explained, “Why is this important? Simple — spectrum equals jobs. The mission of this subcommittee is to squeeze as much as possible out of existing spectrum so that our nation continues to lead the world in wireless broadband innovation and opportunities so that the communications sector can continue to be a job-creation engine for the American people. We will also conduct oversight to ensure FCC implementation does not pick winners and losers by allocating large swaths of spectrum to favored constituencies for free thus shorting the supply of spectrum that is badly needed to meet the rising consumer demand for mobile broadband and leave public safety hanging by depriving it of the funding it needs to build out a public safety network.”

Walden also commented on the World Conference on International Telecommunications currently being convened in Dubai, stating, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Internet is the greatest vehicle for global economic progress and freedom since the printing press, and, despite the current economic climate, it continues to grow at an astonishing pace. That is why later today we will vote on the final version of a bipartisan, bicameral resolution spearheaded by subcommittee member Rep. Bono Mack opposing proposals being considered at the WCIT to regulate the Internet. The Internet has thrived under government’s hands off policy, and I will fight attempts to roll back that policy, either abroad or at home. I’m sorry to say these international efforts are unlikely to end with the WCIT."

In addition to continuing the efforts begun in the 112th Congress, Walden noted that the subcommittee must reauthorize satellite operators’ authority to carry broadcast television. Hearings surrounding the reauthorization will likely elicit debate about revisiting the 1992 Cable Act and 1996 Telecommunications Act, and Walden noted that the question of whether any reforms to those Acts would come in the context of the satellite television reauthorization remains to be seen.

Walden concluded, “All in all, next Congress looks to be an exciting one for the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, as well as one of critical importance for our economy. I look forward to working on my panel with both parties to promote innovations, create jobs, and get our economy going again.”