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#SubCommTech Examines Solutions to Meet America’s Growing Spectrum Needs

Apr 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), today held a hearing examining the impact of spectrum on economic growth and how the federal government can help meet America’s ever-growing spectrum needs.

Members also discussed several pieces of legislation including Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Doris Matsui’s (D-CA) Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s (R-IL) H.R. 1814, which encourages spectrum licensees to make unused or underused spectrum available for rural and smaller carrier use, and S. 19, the MOBILE NOW Act, which seeks to ensure an adequate amount of spectrum is available to ensure the deployment of next generation 5G wireless broadband technology, as well as other spectrum.

“It is often said that spectrum is the lifeblood of wireless connectivity, and wireless demand continues to surge at an incredible rate. As a result, it is imperative that the subcommittee continues working to unleash spectrum for commercial purposes. The FCC and NTIA must work quickly to identify bands of spectrum which can be reallocated and cleared for commercial use as we push to develop 5G networks,” stated #SubCommTech Chairman Blackburn.

Witnesses listen to member opening statements at today’s #SubCommTech hearing

Scott Bergmann, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at CTIA, discussed the importance of modernizing federal siting processes, commenting, “We must move forward with modernizing our nation’s infrastructure siting policies so that spectrum can be fully utilized and wireless networks can be rapidly and efficiently deployed. … In particular, streamlined processes for siting on federal lands in rural and remote areas would greatly improve the ability of the wireless industry to serve these hard-to-reach customers.”

Jennifer Manner, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at EchoStar Corporation and Hughes Network Systems, outlined the importance of Congress remaining technology neutral as they move towards meeting America’s growing spectrum needs, stating, “It is critical that Congress and the FCC ensure that all technologies are given the resources they need to meet the needs of consumers, no matter where they are located. Broadband means economic opportunity. By allocating spectrum in a technology-neutral manner to enable competition among platforms, we can ensure that consumers, not the government, are able to pick the best technology for their use and the digital economy will continue to blossom. … Meeting broadband infrastructure challenges, especially in rural America, is critical to job creation and economic development.”

In his line of questioning, Rep. Kinzinger asked Mr. Bergmann, “What other actions should congress take that the FCC can’t in order to promote the deployment of 5G services and infrastructure?” Mr. Bergmman replied, “The two most important things that this committee can do is to focus on spectrum and infrastructure siting.” 

Chairman Blackburn listens intently to witness testimony

“The 5G revolution is upon us and America must not fall behind. Deploying and promoting efficient use of spectrum is the two-sided solution we must adopt as wireless communications networks expand and the Internet of Things seemingly grows into the Internet of Everything,” concluded Chairman Blackburn. Republicans and Democrats are eager to tackle the spectrum crunch. The societal and financial value of spectrum is simply too great for it to not be maximized.”

A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found online HERE.