Communications and Technology Subcommittee Discusses Public and Private Sector Spectrum Allocation

June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), today held a hearing on “Equipping Carriers and Agencies in the Wireless Era.” The subcommittee heard from government and private sector witnesses as members continue to discuss ways to meet the needs of wireless carriers and federal agencies in a time of limited spectrum and financial resources. The subcommittee has been actively involved in spectrum reform in the effort to boost innovation and create jobs. Last Congress, Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (R-CA) created a working group, led by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Doris Matsui (R-CA) that focused on federal spectrum use.

“I’m convinced we can upgrade federal systems while freeing spectrum, thereby promoting both our nation’s safety and economic well-being. Last year, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, including the commercial incentive auction provisions that were the fruits of this subcommittee’s labor. Such auctions can help make spectrum available to meet the growing demand from mobile broadband services, provided the FCC gets the auction and band plans right,” said Chairman Walden. “Building on the knowledge gained by the working group, today we look at the tools available to maintain and even improve federal agencies capabilities while freeing spectrum for commercial use.”

At the hearing, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo to hold monthly meetings with the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure efforts to upgrade government systems and repurpose spectrum for commercial use stay on track.

“I have talked with Ranking Member Waxman and we are both concerned that we are not making progress fast enough,” said Chairman Upton. “So therefore, the two of us, we have agreed on a bipartisan basis to ask Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Eshoo to convene monthly meetings with the NTIA, FCC, and DOD to make sure that we tackle the issues both responsibly and expeditiously.” Watch their colloquy here.

Chairman Walden concluded, “The U.S. wireless industry is facing a shortage of spectrum. If we work together to harness the strengths and assets of our agencies and the private sector we can meet the needs of government, advance our leadership in the mobile wireless world, and create jobs in the process.”