Walden, Upton praise
job-creating spectrum reforms in payroll conference agreement
April 2, 2012
U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and
Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)
praised the inclusion of key spectrum reforms in legislation to extend
payroll tax relief and address other key issues. Upton and Walden were
two of 20 negotiators working on the conference committee, where they
made spectrum reform a top priority because of its potential to create
jobs, spur innovation and economic investment, and support public
safety, all while maintaining strong protections for taxpayers.
A summary of the spectrum provisions of the
conference agreement is available online HERE.
“With 13 million Americans still seeking employment, job creation is a
driving force behind efforts to expand wireless broadband. Spectrum
auctions are not only good public policy for the communications and
technology sector, they will produce meaningful job creation when we
need it most. Estimates project that the new wireless build-out will
result in billions of dollars in new investment. The hundreds of
thousands of jobs that are created as a result will be an economic
game-changer,” said Upton and Walden.
On Wireless Broadband Development
“As Americans’ reliance on wireless devices such as smartphones and
tablets increases, so has the demand for additional wireless broadband.
After years of discussion, negotiations, and hearings, this legislation
provides the FCC the necessary authority to conduct these auctions. We
struck a fine balance to make more efficient use of the airwaves while
also providing necessary protections for broadcasters,” said Upton and
On Fair and Open Auctions
“We’re pleased that we were able to come to agreement on a provision we
authored to ensure all interested bidders will be able to participate in
future auctions. The legislation makes clear that any party that is able
to meet specific, traditional qualifications to hold a spectrum license
is entitled to participate in the auction, and cannot be excluded. This
will ensure auctions produce the greatest revenue for taxpayers, while
also making certain that the spectrum is used where and how it offers
the greatest value, as determined by the market. Competition should
determine winners and losers, not the FCC. Recent history has shown the
Commission meddling in auctions and trying to ‘shape’ the market not
only reduces federal revenue, it harms competition and spectrum policy.
The new law puts a stop to this subjective and arbitrary practice.
Congress sets the policy, not independent agencies. We will be watching
closely, ensuring the FCC follows the law,” said Upton and Walden.
On Strong Protections for Taxpayers
“The spectrum auctions will bring in more than $15 billion in federal
revenue, and we went to great lengths to ensure that taxpayers’
investment to clear the spectrum for broadband use garners the maximum
return on that investment. The legislation not only preserves the
abundant amount of airwaves currently available for unlicensed uses like
WiFi, it creates even more. At the same time, it ensures that if the FCC
spends billions of Americans’ hard-earned dollars to free-up other
spectrum that’s ideal for licensed use, it does not turn around and give
that spectrum away for free,” said Upton and Walden.
On Public Safety Network
“For more than a decade this country has committed to bringing our
nation’s first responders the interoperable communications they need.
This bill seeks to provide an interoperable public safety broadband
network to fill the current and future needs of the men and women who
risk their lives for us every day. Importantly, the bill also brings
public safety networks into the twenty-first century by adopting
standards that bring the modern, agile, and innovative wireless
technologies of the commercial wireless industry to bear on the
communications challenges of first responders,” said Upton and Walden.
Summary of Key Provisions
The Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology
Subcommittee made spectrum reform a top priority for the 112th Congress.
The committee held six hearings and a markup last year, inviting the
views of wireless providers, technology leaders, academics, economists
and engineers to weigh in on the best policy to free up additional
airwaves to fulfill growing demand for wireless broadband services.
Subcommittee Chairman Walden unveiled spectrum legislation on July 13,
2011, and it was approved by the subcommittee as the Jumpstarting
Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act on December 1, 2011.
One study projects that build-out of next generation wireless networks
could generate between 371,000 and 771,000 jobs, $25-53 billion in
investment, and $73-151 billion in GDP growth. But that requires making
more spectrum available. This legislation does that by allowing the FCC
to share proceeds with licensees, like broadcasters, who voluntarily
return spectrum to be re-auctioned to meet the exploding demand for
wireless Internet service.
The spectrum provisions in the House-Senate agreement will create jobs,
spur investment and innovation in the growing technology sector, and
support first responders. It does all of these things while offering
strong protections for taxpayers and helping offset other costs within
Voluntary Incentive Auctions
key component of the agreement is authority for the Federal
Communications Commission to conduct voluntary incentive
By giving a portion of the auction
proceeds to licensees who return spectrum, these voluntary
incentive auctions allow us to make more efficient use of the
airwaves and clear valuable blocks of spectrum to support
next-generation wireless networks.
The agreement includes important
protections for broadcasters sought by the House to ensure
individuals who rely on over-the-air broadcasting will not lose
Strong Protections for Taxpayers
The agreement aims to produce a net
$15 billion in auction proceeds – more than double the amount
initially proposed by the Senate – that will help offset other
costs within the legislation.
Like the original House-passed
legislation, the agreement ensures that if the federal
government spends money to clear spectrum, taxpayers will get a
return on that investment by ensuring it is auctioned. Other
proposals would have allowed the FCC to give away this spectrum,
at a potential billion-dollar cost to taxpayers.
The agreement also supports fair and
open auctions that will bring in the greatest revenue for
taxpayers by including limitations on the FCC’s ability to
Major Job Creation
According to recent studies,
investment in next-generation wireless broadband could produce
FCC Chairman Genachowski even cites
one study indicating spectrum legislation could create as many
generate $25 to $53 billion in investment, and produce $73 to
$151 billion in GDP growth.
Development of a Public Safety Network
Both the House and Senate had
developed legislation to support build-out of a nationwide
interoperable broadband public safety network, and the agreement
unifies the framework that will be used to finally make this
recommendation of the 9/11 Commission a reality.
The agreement reallocates the
“D-Block,” which – combined with spectrum already given to
public safety by Congress – gives public safety the contiguous
20 MHz of spectrum they have sought for wireless broadband.
It also directs a share of future
auction proceeds, up to $7 billion, to support development of
Unlike legislation initially developed
in the Senate that would have established an entirely new
federal corporation to run the network, the agreement
establishes a central governing authority within the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration while
permitting states that choose to build their own networks the
opportunity to opt-out of the central network while maintaining