Walden Highlights Committee’s Broad Efforts to Spur Innovation and Create Jobs

September 17, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today addressed the American Enterprise Institute’s new Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy during an event entitled, “Broadband, economic growth, and the implications for spectrum policy.” Walden highlighted the committee’s work to free up more spectrum for mobile broadband and other uses and efforts to keep the Internet free from government control. Additionally, he outlined ongoing efforts to modernize the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including the recent unanimous house approval of the FCC Consolidated Reporting Act. Walden also touched on the subcommittee’s agenda for the fall and announced an October hearing on the future of copper networks (Details will be available here as they are posted). Excerpts of Walden’s remarks are below.

Walden on the Communications and Technology Industry

“Despite the struggling economy, there are still bright spots. The communications sector is one of those spots. The sector continues to grow, to innovate, and to invest in America. … This spirit of innovation that allowed the U.S. to bring the Internet to the world and made us the world leader in wireless continues to fuel our companies and entrepreneurs. Internet technology is now bringing innovation to parts of our lives we never imagined would be connected. … We must recognize that the Internet and mobility are the frontiers on which countries are now vying for economic supremacy; we must ensure that American companies have the freedom to bring new and novel technologies to market; and we must provide a deregulatory environment in which innovation can thrive.”

Walden on Spectrum Incentive Auctions

“Our subcommittee made it our mission to resolve this problem through a new auction mechanism: and I’m proud of the results. The FCC is now working to implement a first-of-its-kind incentive auction that allows market mechanisms to determine the most economically beneficial use of spectrum and for existing licensees to realize the value of relinquishing this valuable public asset. The spectrum that we will make available through the incentive auctions will be a significant investment in the wireless information economy and will help America continue to be the world leader in wireless services.”

Walden on Improving Federal Spectrum Use

“Working with Federal agencies, we are looking at ways to incent more efficient use, ways to upgrade and improve Federal spectrum systems, and how we can bring the innovation of the commercial sector to bear on the challenges of the government. I am proud to say that this is a bipartisan effort and I thank my Democratic colleagues for working with us on this important effort.”

Walden on International Attempts to Control the Internet

"As many of you know, over the last few years the international community has been taking steps to insert the prying fingers of government into the Internet. They want to subvert the Internet for their own purposes, but we cannot allow these efforts to succeed. … Under the multi-stakeholder governance model, non-regulatory institutions manage and operate the Internet by developing best practices with public and private sector input.

"Yet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai last December, a number of nations sought to subject the Internet to international regulation. … This development was not unanticipated and the work of these opponents of the Internet freedom is unlikely to abate. Last Congress the House and Senate unanimously passed a 'sense of the Congress' supporting the Internet as it is today. This Congress, the House has passed a bill by a vote of 414-0 to make this the law of the land. Unfortunately, our colleagues in the Senate have not seen fit to give this unanimous House bill its day in the Senate. I look forward to their consideration of this important policy."

Walden Announces Hearing on the Future of Copper Networks

“My subcommittee is taking a hard look at the role of existing regulations in the current technological landscape. Last week we held a hearing looking at the disparate regulations in the modern video marketplace. Next month we will continue this exercise by examining the future of copper networks in the age of the Internet and how regulation is impacting broadband deployment and innovation in the Internet world. The Internet and wireless worlds have thrived without regulation. The last thing we want to do is stifle the unprecedented innovation of the Internet by subjecting it to the complicated outdated government imposed rules of the plain old telephone network.”

Walden on Modernizing the FCC for the Innovation Era

"In addition to sensible and modern regulations, the industry deserves the most efficient and transparent regulatory agency possible. While practices have improved, there is no guarantee that future administrations won’t backslide to the old ways—only a statute can ensure good process from commission to commission. To that end, we have worked to implement reforms to the processes of the Federal Communications Commission.  The Consolidated Reporting Act of 2013 eliminates outdated reports, such as the telegraph competition report, and consolidates several individual FCC reports into one comprehensive marketplace evaluation that allows the industry, consumers and Congress to better assess competition in the communications sector and reduces the paper work burdens on the agency.  This bill passed the House of Representatives last week with overwhelming support— another unanimous vote: 415-0.  Like our unanimous Internet governance bill, I urge our colleagues on the other side of the dome to pass this bill and to help improve the function and efficiency of a key sector of our government.”

Walden on the FCC Process Reform Act

"We are also continuing our work on other FCC process reforms; timelines for filing of comments and replies, rules to allow sufficient time for the public to review comments, statistical reports and ex parte contacts submitted to the commission, and shot clocks for completion of proceedings and cost-benefit analyses and findings of market failure before agency intervention in the market place. These will help create the kind of predictable and consistent practices that ensure the agency is productive in carrying out its responsibilities. We’ve worked with all of the stakeholders, held multiple hearings, and are now working with our colleagues in a bi-partisan approach to see if we can agree on legislation to get this done sometime this fall."

Walden on Getting Government Out of the Way of Private Investment

“Another key element of ensuring the continued growth of the tech industry is removing disincentives for investment. The federal government must get out of the business of subsidizing competition to private investment. …  When the private sector and government-funded projects compete with each other, nobody wins – least of all the American public – especially when the government has to borrow the money!”

Walden’s full remarks are available here.