Doyle Statement on Wireless Spectrum Policy

July 16, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-18), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, gave the following statement at the beginning of the Subcommittee’s hearing “Our Wireless Future: Building a Comprehensive Approach to Spectrum Policy.” 

Good morning, I’d like to welcome everyone to this Subcommittee’s first hearing on wireless spectrum policy. I’d also like to thank our two panels of witnesses for appearing before us today to discuss these important issues.

Wireless spectrum enables much of technology that powers our modern economy. From streaming Netflix over Wi-fi to listening to Spotify on your phone, these technologies rely on spectrum that has been carefully licensed and coordinated by the FCC. As we look to the future and the explosion of smart home devices like digital assistants and connected appliances – and smart city technologies such as connected infrastructure and smart environmental sensors – it is clear that this is just the beginning.

To meet current demand and enable future needs, we need a national spectrum policy that incentivizes innovation and provides opportunities for new technologies and new entrants.

The challenge we face today is just how constrained our spectrum resources are. While there are some greenfield spectrum opportunities, they are few and far between.

The Federal Government is the largest holder of spectrum, and as such, much of the new spectrum being made available for commercial purposes is repurposed from federal agencies.

In the past this process has worked well, with the NTIA coordinating federal spectrum use and working with the FCC, impacted, agencies, and stakeholders to transition spectrum to the private sector without impacting critical federal users. 

I’m very concerned that there has been a breakdown between the FCC, NTIA and other federal stakeholders. Over the last year and a half, several federal agencies have expressed deep concerns about a number of FCC proceedings related to spectrum policy including the Department of Education, the Department of Transportation, the Defense Department, the Department of Commerce, and NOAA.

It’s a strange day when Democrats agree with Secretary DeVos about education policy, but many of us are concerned that the FCC’s recent order regarding the Educational Broadband Service effectively stripped the educational purpose and benefit from the band.

It’s also concerning that NOAA and the Department of Commerce continue to assert that the recently completed auction of the 24 gigahertz band could have serious impacts on NOAA’s ability to forecast hurricanes.

It makes a great deal of sense to look at bands and to repurpose them as needed, but it’s very concerning when cabinet officials are publicly fighting with the FCC over spectrum policy. I’m deeply concerned that this process has broken down – and that the American people are going to be the ones who suffer.

These challenges aren’t new, and policymakers and stakeholders are in a constant struggle to enable spectrum to be shared more efficiently or to be transitioned to better uses. 

Today, Congress has an opportunity with the so called “C-Band.” I’m happy to have several witnesses testifying on the second panel who can discuss this opportunity as well the challenges in transitioning it. Through Congressional action, I believe that this band can provide consumers, incumbent users, satellite operators, wireless companies, and new entrants an incredible opportunity.

Congresswoman Matsui and I are working on a proposal to make a significant amount of mid-band spectrum available over the next 5 years, and in a way that helps accelerate the deployment of 5G.

We also hope that a portion of the proceeds of this transaction can be used for the priorities that this Committee has focused on for so long: rural broadband deployment, Next Generation 911, and closing the digital divide.

We hope to work together with Ranking Members Latta and Walden and our colleagues in the Senate to help facilitate this transition and ensure that all Americans can benefit from the opportunities these new technologies offer.