January 14, 2003 Tuesday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: COMPETITION IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling today's hearing and I thank all our very much respected, esteemed FCC commissioners for being here, Abernathy, Copps, Martin, Adelstein, and all led by our very skillful and impressive chairman Michael Powell. We're here to discuss the current state of the competition in the telecommunications industry. I'll submit my statement for the record.
We all know all the bad news, the job losses, the debt loads, the under-utilization of capacity, and I think that one thing though that we all can agree on with this bad situation is that we all talk in a variety of different ways of deploying greater Broadband capabilities around the country and making sure that those Internet connections will be available and utilized to help reinvigorate the growth and the technology and the telecommunications enterprises, and full deployment of Broadband services clearly will substantially change and significantly impact our society in so many different ways, whether in education, healthcare, commerce, entertainment or government services.
Broadband deployment is a key aspect of improving our nation's overall economy and competitiveness as well. Economists have talked about how many more jobs would be created, the $500 billion annually by 2006 increased, GDP, all of this is obviously with the adoption of Broadband and in promoting its deployment will help spur our nation's economy now and spur its growth and sustain it in the future.
Now, during the past several years, much of the debate in Congress over Broadband services has focused on whether we should support competition versus deregulation of telecommunications as a mechanism for encouraging Broadband deployment. In my opinion, the costly, strenuous debate that we have seen has reached an unproductive stalemate and fails, fails to consider that other technologies are available that can jumpstart consumer driven investment and demand in Broadband services.
I believe what has been missing from this discussion is the relentless and invigorating power of innovation and promise of new technologies. And while I support competitive telecommunications environments and have been an advocate of federal deregulation, I think it's beneficial to shift the policy discussion away from this debate and focus on something that's actually positive that Congress can do to foster innovation, stimulate technology in telecom sectors and encourage the adoption of Broadband services.
In an effort to move away from this stalemated debate and work within the carefully crafted framework of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, today I'll be introducing legislation with Senator Boxer to foster a third alternative mode of Broadband communication by making more unlicensed spectrum available for exciting new wireless Broadband technologies. This means that you can move around with your laptop in your house the same way that you move around with your cordless telephone. The same would apply if you're in an airport or any other Wi-Fi enabled hotspot.
In my view, these innovations, an advancement in the wireless area, the unlicensed wireless area or radio-based devices, or otherwise referred to as Wi-Fi, offer an additional means of delivering data at high speed and also allow new business models for delivering Broadband connectivity to emerge. By using existing advances and technologies that are spectrally efficient like cognitive radios and dynamic frequency selection and creating an environment that encourages further innovations in wireless Broadband devices, our hope, Senator Boxer's hope and mine with this legislation is to increase consumer demand of Broadband devices and stimulate telecom and technology sectors as well as the overall economy.
Now, I understand, Mr. Chairman, both chairmen, that the focus of this hearing is competition in the telecommunications area. It's a very important proceeding currently before the Commission these days, but I'm hopeful that the commissioners will reserve some time to comment on emerging technologies such as Wi-Fi, since our legislation will certainly involve the Federal Communications Commission. Thank you very much.