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Public Statements

Radio Spectrum Inventory Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman for his diligent work on this bill and also Mr. Stearns for his leadership as we worked through these issues in committee. And I do rise in support of the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act.

In committee, I highlighted the importance of listening to the engineers as we move forward on our spectrum inventory. And today I want to talk about the importance of this bill to the wireless industry. America's wireless industry is the undisputed world leader, and Mr. Stearns and Mr. Markey have both highlighted portions of that as we have played with our devices during Mr. Markey's remarks focusing on the innovations that have come our way.

Americans pay less per minute for the use of wireless services than users in Europe or Asia. And despite having just 7 percent of the global wireless subscribers, America's wireless companies serve more than 21 percent of global 3G subscribers. Handsets and applications that can be launched anywhere in the world routinely appear in the U.S. market first.

Unfortunately, our position in the global marketplace is not something that is guaranteed to us, and without careful attention to support the need of the growth of the wireless industry through the release of additional spectrum, we risk ceding that important leadership to nations that have already identified substantial swaths of spectrum that will be made available for commercial use. That is why the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act is so very important by providing a road map for policymakers regarding where we may find additional spectrum that can be used for wireless broadband services in the U.S. Enactment of H.R. 3125 will help ensure that the U.S. is in a position to match, and hopefully surpass, our trading partners by making additional spectrum available for commercial use.

I urge support of the legislation.

Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlewoman from Tennessee to engage in a colloquy with the chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I would yield to the gentleman from Virginia and ask permission for the colloquy.

Mr. BOUCHER. The gentlelady controls the time. I will be happy to engage in the colloquy with the gentlelady.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Florida for the time.

And, Mr. Chairman, last month the Federal Communications Commission released its National Broadband Plan which contained some very ambitious recommendations with respect to spectrum availability. I would like to ask the subcommittee chairman his views on how the FCC should proceed on the inventory required by this bill and on the recommendations of the broadband plan. Is it the chairman's view that the inventory required by this bill should inform the FCC in its decision-making with respect to the potential reallocation of spectrum sought by the broadband plan?

Mr. BOUCHER. Would the gentlelady yield?


Mr. BOUCHER. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

There is no doubt that more spectrum is needed to meet our Nation's rising demand for wireless services. Conducting the spectrum inventory that this legislation requires is an essential first step. It will offer a clear path and a road map for the next steps in making available adequate spectrum by giving the Congress and the FCC a baseline of the location and use of our spectrum resources. That baseline should inform the Congress and the commission on decisions regarding spectrum use and possible spectrum reallocation.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the subcommittee chairman for his explanation, and I associate myself with his remarks. I share the chairman's expectation regarding the importance of collecting and analyzing the data in the spectrum inventory before making decisions about possible spectrum relocation.

I'd also like to a add my own expectation that the spectrum inventory will be thorough and scientific in order to serve as an accurate metric of our spectrum use.

I have one final question to ask the chairman. The broadband plan includes recommendations regarding reallocation of many of the frequencies currently used to provide broadcast television service. The plan recommends starting with voluntary measures to relocate broadcast stations to different frequencies; But it then hints that other, presumably involuntary, methods of relocating broadcast stations may be necessary.

My question, Mr. Chairman, is whether you believe that the FCC should engage in involuntary methods to move broadcasters to different frequencies in order to free up additional spectrum.

Mr. BOUCHER. Would the gentlelady yield?


Mr. BOUCHER. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

As to the first matter, I agree with her that a thorough scientific examination of spectrum use must be the core of the inventory that this measure requires. I also agree that the right approach is for the FCC to work with television broadcasters to identify the spectrum they now hold that on a purely consensual basis could be repurposed for commercial wireless use. Broadcasters who surrender spectrum would receive compensation in exchange for a voluntary spectrum transfer. I would not support the commission's requiring stations to give up spectrum involuntarily.

The right approach is that specified in this legislation--learn where we are, understand thoroughly how current spectrum is used, identify that part that is perhaps underutilized that could be reallocated or submitted to spectrum sharing through the new spectrum sharing technologies and then to the extent that based on that inventory it would be appropriate for broadcasters to enter into conversations about surrendering a portion of their spectrum on a voluntary basis, that would obviously be an appropriate step. It would not be an appropriate step to require that broadcasters engage in the surrender of any part of the spectrum they hold.

And I thank the gentlelady for raising these very important questions that help illuminate the debate this morning.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the chairman for his explanations.

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