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Hearing Of The Subcommittee On Communications, Technology, And The Internet Of The House Committee On Energy And Commerce - Oversight Of The Federal Communications Commission: The National Broadband Plan


Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Chairman Boucher, for scheduling this important hearing. The release of the
National Broadband Plan was eagerly anticipated over the last several months, and I am pleased that the Committee is examining its recommendations today.

The National Broadband Plan is the most significant and ambitious infrastructure
program for America since the interstate highway system. Our competitiveness and prosperity
depend on meeting its core objectives.

America cannot settle for second-best in the digital age.

Writing this detailed blueprint was a massive undertaking. I commend Chairman
Genachowski, the Broadband Team, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) staff
for the open, transparent, and data-driven process they used in preparing the report.

Now comes the hard part.

The real test of the plan's success will be in its implementation. Congress, the FCC, and
the Administration all have a role to play.

One important aspect of the plan is the recommendation to enhance public safety by
building a new interoperable broadband network. According to the Chairs of the 9/11
Commission, "The FCC's plan offers a realistic framework to move forward, and we hope that
all stakeholders will work with the Commission to refine the plan as needed and make it a

I have asked my staff to begin drafting legislation to implement the public safety
recommendations. We will work in close consultation with Subcommittee Chairman Boucher,
Ranking Members Barton and Stearns, and other members of the Committee. Significant
funding will be needed to effectuate the concepts outlined in the plan. But I believe we must
find a way to move forward on a bipartisan basis to meet the needs of the public safety

The plan identifies a looming shortage of spectrum as a major problem facing the
expansion of wireless broadband. Members of the Committee will have different ideas about
how to address this issue. As we will hear today, the broadband plan makes a series of
recommendations for freeing up spectrum. These deserve our serious consideration.

As the plan recognizes, there is a pending legal challenge to the Commission's ability to
regulate broadband networks. The outcome of that case could have serious implications for the
Commission's ability to protect consumers and implement the plan. Whatever the court rules,
the Commission should take the steps it deems necessary to ensure it can implement the plan,
and to ensure that broadband consumers are protected.

There are other key recommendations in the plan. We need to take steps to safeguard
consumer privacy, ensure transparent and accurate billing, provide access for disabled
Americans, and reform the Universal Service Fund.

I hope today's hearing will be only the first in a series of hearings on the future of
broadband. We could benefit from additional hearings that will focus on individual aspects of
the plan, including creating a public safety broadband network, reforming universal service,
improving spectrum policy, providing better access to persons with disabilities, eliminating
barriers to deployment, and promoting broadband adoption throughout the country. I look
forward to working with Chairman Boucher and the other members of the Subcommittee as we
move forward.

I thank our distinguished panel for appearing before the committee today and look
forward your testimony.

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