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Pallone Remarks at Subcommittee Markup of Broadband Mapping, Spectrum, Supply Chain, and STELAR Bills

Nov 14, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C.Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks today at a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Markup of nine communications bills: Today this Subcommittee is focused on advancing legislation that will directly benefit consumers, small businesses, and our national security. 

We will take action to help ensure the security of our domestic communications networks and those of our allies.  We will take steps to map our broadband internet networks and to free up more of our nation’s airwaves.  We will provide consumers greater transparency and consistency when it comes to their internet, phone, cable TV, or satellite TV bills.  And we will consider the reauthorization of the laws that govern our media markets.

I am especially pleased that we will be taking up my Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.  I introduced this bill with Ranking Member Walden, Subcommittee Vice Chair Matsui, and Representative Guthrie. Our legislation will help protect Americans' privacy from the prying eyes of foreign governments and will help ensure that our communications networks won’t be shut down by our adversaries.  Our bill will prohibit the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband subsidies from being used to support suspect communications equipment and services.  And for suspect equipment that small carriers have already installed, we will authorize a billion-dollar program to replace it.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of this measure, particularly as reports of foreign surveillance and meddling continue to grow.

We will also consider the Network Security Information Sharing Act introduced by Representative Kinzinger and Chairman Doyle.  This legislation would help smaller carriers identify potentially suspect equipment or services before they buy and install it in their networks.

We will also discuss two important bills introduced by Representatives Loebsack, Latta, McEachin and Long, that will finally help us produce accurate maps of our broadband internet networks.  For the better part of a decade, this subcommittee has tried to tackle the mapping problem, and we are finally doing it now.  Their legislation, the Broadband DATA Act and the MAPS Act, will be a critical step forward in finally connecting unserved and underserved Americans in rural, suburban, and urban areas.

Additionally, Chairman Doyle and Ranking Member Latta have introduced the SHARE Act to help our federal agencies share their allocated spectrum with other agencies.  This bipartisan bill would also require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to study our nation’s recent spectrum sharing successes to bring more innovative services to Americans.  Unlike spectrum provisions that were included in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization bill for the 2020 fiscal year, this bipartisan legislation has undergone a robust process of stakeholder engagement in this subcommittee before coming up for today’s markup.

Finally, I’d like to mention Chairman Doyle’s Television Viewer Protection Act.  His bill would extend the “good faith” negotiation provisions for retransmission consent for five years, while allowing smaller cable companies to negotiate with large broadcasters collectively.  Most importantly, this legislation includes central provisions championed by Representative Eshoo to require more consistency and transparency in consumers’ bills for communications services.

I know my colleagues will have different views regarding this reauthorization, but these provisions are expiring and if we are going to address them, we must do it now.  In that spirit, I look forward to working together with my colleagues as we prepare to move to the full committee to discuss any concerns in the hopes of building bipartisan consensus.

In closing, we have nine good bills before us today that will help consumers. I hope they will receive the bipartisan support they deserve. 

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