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Sen. Hutchison Urges FCC to Bring Spectrum to Market Quickly

May 17, 2012

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move quickly on bringing spectrum to the wireless market in order to increase competition in the mobile broadband industry. Her prepared statement submitted to the record for the committee's oversight hearing of the FCC follows:

“First, I want to congratulate and welcome the two newest members of the FCC, Commissioners Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel. Both are fine additions to the FCC, and I look forward to working with them.

“So much has happened in the two years since we last had Chairman Genachowski before our committee. In particular, the FCC imposed net neutrality regulations, which I completely disagree with. I think the FCC overstepped its powers, and I think the actions you take in the future must be contained to what you are explicitly authorized to do.

“In February, Congress passed a landmark wireless spectrum bill that I think will keep the FCC quite busy in the coming years. Working closely with Chairman Rockefeller and our counterparts in the House, we crafted a bipartisan bill that directs the FCC to auction several wireless bands, gives it the authority to conduct incentive auctions, and will build a much-needed nationwide mobile broadband network for emergency first responders. This spectrum legislation has the potential to spur innovation, to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, to grow our economy, and to make our communities safer. But that can only occur if agencies like the FCC do a good and timely job of implementing this very complex law.

“Mobile broadband is proving to be transformational, and the demand for wireless services is growing at an exponential rate. As the FCC noted in its National Broadband Plan, if government fails to free up adequate spectrum to meet the growing demand, the cost ‘may be higher prices, poorer service, lost productivity, loss of competitive advantage and untapped innovation.’

“Freeing up more spectrum is one of the best ways that the government can help increase competition in the mobile broadband marketplace; if spectrum is abundant enough, wireless competition will be robust and plentiful.

“There are few things that the FCC can do over the next couple of years that will grow our economy more than helping to bring more spectrum to market—whether it be through traditional auctions; new incentive auctions; unlicensed allocations; secondary transactions; opening up government spectrum; or rulemakings to make wireless bands more flexible.

“I urge the FCC to move as fast as it can on implementing the new spectrum bill and on its various other spectrum-related activities. Getting things right is the top priority, but doing so in a timely manner is also important. Because our constituents increasingly ask for and rely upon mobile connectivity, I know Congress will continue to pay close attention to wireless issues going forward.

“One issue that warrants additional Congressional focus is determining if and how we can transition the 1755 megahertz band from the government to the private sector, and I am glad to see that the Administration and industry stakeholders have begun meaningful discussions about this extremely valuable band.

“I expect that this hearing will cover a wide variety of interesting issues, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses. Thank you.”

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