Connect with us

House of Representatives

C-Band Hearing Showcases Divisions Over Auctions, Uses of Radio Frequencies



Defense Department photo of Rep. Mike Doyle from January 2017 by Marvin Lynchard

WASHINGTON, October 29, 2019 – Mid-band radiofrequencies in the so-called “C-Band” are underutilized but not unused, said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., at a Tuesday hearing on this key mid-band spectrum.

The C-Band Alliance, a coalition of satellite service providers, had testified before the Committee this past July. Pallone disagreed with the CBA’s support for the private purchase of spectrum to wireless carriers.

The Alliance’s recent offer to make a voluntary payment to the U.S. Treasury from their multi-billion-dollar private sale, Pallone said, raises novel enforcement and transparency issues. It would also be an unprecedented departure from the way Congress has instructed the Federal Communications Commission to reallocate spectrum in the past, he said.

In the wake of the so-called “incentive auction,” which allow broadcasters to put frequencies up for auction, Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle, D-Penn., said it was good to see incumbent spectrum rights holders offer to work with the government to reallocate spectrum.

However, Doyle continued, it’s concerning that several satellite companies have voiced the desire for a private C-Band auction. Not only would these companies sell spectrum that they did not purchase, he said, but they would hold most of the auction’s profits and reimburse the U.S. Treasury on a voluntary basis.

The FCC has signaled an intent to showcase progress of spectrum sharing in the C-Band , said Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio., making critical mid-band spectrum available for 5G wireless technologies.

While bipartisan market-based principles have helped innovation for the past two decades, Latta said, other countries continue to develop additional spectrum for commercial use. Lawmakers should encourage the FCC and industry leaders to work together to ensure that spectrum management serves the public interest, he said.

The hearing featured witnesses from industry and nonprofit organizations. Regardless of what type of auction is initiated, said Ross Lieberman, senior vice president of government affairs at the cable association ACA Connects, it’s important that rural Americans are unharmed in 5G deployment.

Under ACA’s 5G plan, he said, a transparent public auction could put spectrum to its highest and best use.

However, Lieberman added, the FCC’s plan to reallocate up to 300 megahertz for 5G mobile wireless deployment may harm ACA Connects members who are small cable operators. At minimum, operators would have to install fiber into their systems to prevent interference, which he said was not an affordable option. Auction proceeds would be better spent on fiber infrastructure and other goods that serve the public interest, he said.

Government-led spectrum transitions have been “tremendously difficult and slow,” said Cisco Vice President of Government Affairs Jeff Campbell. He said that mobile service traffic will rise five-fold by 2022.

5G technology can make our economy work better, Campbell said, by providing a ubiquitously available set of wireless capabilities. In the case of this technology in the 3 GHz band, there are national competitive interests at stake that warrant moving expeditiously in the auction process.

Authorization to use spectrum does not constitute ownership, said Deborah Collier, director of technology and telecommunications policy at Citizens Against Government Waste. The C-Band spectrum is unique, she said, in that the only clear ownership within the band is by the federal government.

The FCC can use incentive auction authorization to allocate federally held unused spectrum for mobile providers, Collier said. Another proposal recommends that the net proceeds from an FCC-conducted auction be used to build out fiber across the country, effectively delivering data between broadcast stations.

Also, she added, if the FCC conducts the auction, a larger portion of the potential 60 billion in proceeds will go to the taxpayers than under the CBA plan.

James Frownfelter, chairman and CEO of the global satellite company ABS, said that the FCC may confiscate C-Band spectrum from satellite operators to make room for 5G services.

Any proposal to confiscate small satellite operator spectrum without compensation, Frownfelter said, would be anticompetitive, reduce the value of all spectrum licenses and undermine future investment.

To ensure investment in satellite and terrestrial wireless networks, he said, the FCC should permit a private sector auction that fairly and equitably compensates all FCC licensed satellite operators.

Any benefits of C-Band’s reallocation must flow directly to the public, said Phillip Berenbroick, policy director at Public Knowledge. A public auction would not only free up airwaves for 5G mobile broadband but can also generate substantial revenues that Congress could use to address pressing national needs, such as closing the digital divide.

In contrast, Berenbroick said, a private auction would introduce unnecessary uncertainty. If the auction fails, it could cause significant delay and unnecessary legal risk. The FCC can help deliver high speed broadband to unserved areas as well as include small and rural broadband providers in the auction process.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


House Committee Passes Three Bills to Reauthorize NTIA and Research Trans-Atlantic Cable and AI

Also discussed were three bills to address electric vehicle laws in Democratic states.



Screenshot of House Energy and Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2023 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed three bills to the House floor Thursday that will reauthorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, direct the agency to conduct a feasibility assessment of a trans-Atlantic fiber optic cable, and conduct a study on accountability measures for artificial intelligence.  

The NTIA Reauthorization Act of 2023 is a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the NTIA and modernize the mission of the agency to meet the needs of modern America. It would eliminate what it calls unnecessary reporting requirements and consolidate current reporting requirements into an annual report. 

It would also require the NTIA to develop common models, methodologies, and inputs to inform federal spectrum management decisions and establish an informing capability to support the agency’s mission to manage federal spectrum use. It would require the NITA to convene a working group to “establish voluntary receiver criteria, rating, or other measures in bands where federal entities are primary or co-primary users.” 

Spectrum refers to the airways used to transmit wireless signals and service Wi-Fi and mobile networks across the nation. Federal agencies currently have licenses for large portions of the bands, and industry leaders are calling for more spectrum to be allocated for commercial use. 

The law would put the NTIA under obligation to conduct cybersecurity efforts, including by submitting a report examining the cybersecurity of mobile service networks and connecting outreach and technical assistance to small communications network providers. 

Representative Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., applauded the bill for addressing critical cybersecurity concerns, claiming that not addressing these concerns would cause problems in supply chain and infrastructure across the nation.  

Mark Johnson, R-Ohio, and Doris Matsui, D-Calif., added support to the bill in its ability to provide the NTIA tools to better achieve its goals and improve its spectrum coordination with the Federal Communications Commission. The representatives agreed that spectrum is critical to American infrastructure. The motion was passed with a minor amendment on a 48-0 vote. 

The Artificial Intelligence Accountability Act also passed the committee with an amendment to define terms such as “trustworthy.” It would direct the NTIA to study accountability measures for artificial intelligence systems used by communications networks and hold public meetings to solicit feedback on the information that should be available to consumers who interact with AI systems.  

Committee members also passed a bipartisan bill, called the Diaspora Link Act, that would direct the NTIA to submit a report to Congress outlining the value, cost, and feasibility of building a trans-Atlantic fiber optic cable that would connect the continental United States with Ghana and Nigeria by way of the U.S. Virgin Islands in order to “enhance the national security of the United States.” 

Clean energy bills

Also addressed were three laws that address clean energy provisions. The Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act would amend the Clean Air Act to include a requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency evaluates a state’s waiver for vehicle emissions standards to ensure it does not “directly or indirectly limit the sale or use of new motor vehicles with an internal combustion engine.” 

This bill addresses recent California legislation that seeks to require all new cars sold in 2035 and beyond are zero-emission vehicles, which includes electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs.  

“We need to be honest with the American people about how forcing them to switch to electric vehicles plays right into China’s scheme to control our automotive future. China already controls access to critical minerals necessary for EVs,” said Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. China controls 76 percent of global battery cell production capacity for EVs and recently outpaced Japan in the largest exporter of new motor vehicles in the world, she said.  

Democrats strongly opposed the motion, claiming that “while Democrats are fighting [climate change] with investments to reduce pollution and grow our economy, Republicans are fighting to take away those investments and reverse our progress,” said Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J.  

Amendments to remove the section of the bill that would affect existing waivers and delay the effective date until certification that the bill would not cause disproportionate harm to American communities were not agreed to, with votes split on party lines, 27-20. The bill was passed on a 26-22 vote. 

Also considered was the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales Act that would amend previous law to prevent any regulations that mandate the use of any specific technology or resulting in the limited availability of new motor vehicles based on that vehicle’s engine type.  

The No Fuels Credits for Batteries Act would clarify that the EPA “is not authorized to use credits for electricity generated from renewable fuel for purposes of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Both bills were passed along party lines. 

Continue Reading

House of Representatives

Telecom, Online Marketplace Consumer Protection Bills Pass House Committee

Among the bills sent to the House, the committee passed two on telecom and one on consumer safety.



Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2021 – The House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed several bills Wednesday, including two on telecom policy and one meant to address consumer safety when using online retailers.

H.R. 1218, the “Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act,” H.R. 2501, the “Spectrum Coordination Act,” and H.R. 5502, the “Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act” were all passed unopposed and without amendments.

H.R. 1218 is a bill intended to target broadband resources to areas where “telehealth may be useful in the monitoring and care of pregnant women,” bill co-sponsor Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, said during the hearing, adding “it is a moral imperative to address the maternal mortality crisis in the United States.” The bill’s other sponsors are Reps. Lisa Rochester, D-Delaware, and Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida.

“To effectively deploy 21st Century resources to address the shocking rates of maternal mortality, the nation must first identify which communities lack adequate Internet access and have high maternal mortality rates. That is exactly what this bill seeks to do,” said Rochester.

H.R. 2501, which is sponsored by Bilirakis, requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – an agency of the Commerce Department – and the Federal Communications Commission to update the memorandum of understanding on spectrum coordination, to ensure that spectrum is shared efficiently, and that a process is created to better resolve frequency allocation disputes.

H.R. 5502, co-sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D- Illinois, takes aim at online retailers that do not take responsibility for the products that third-party groups sell on their marketplace. Legislators supporting this legislation asserted that this has allowed bad actors to sell unsafe, counterfeit, or otherwise fraudulent goods on common marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy.

“What we’re saying now is very simply that online marketplaces will have to verify that the identity of their higher volume sellers, so they have to take some responsibility,” said Schakowsky. “It’s not just about counterfeiters, it’s not just about defrauding – we are talking about danger every year around this time.”

“This legislation is really going to help the consumers and legitimate businesses that are selling products and becoming victims themselves.”

Amazon has been on the wrong end of state court rulings recently that have made it liable for defective products. Experts on a Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event in May remarked that this could open the floodgates for these types of lawsuits, a contrast to when Section 230 liability protections for platforms have historically been used as strong defenses for these platforms.

Now that these bills have passed their committee, they will be sent to the House to be considered. Should they successfully be passed in the House, they will be sent to the Senate and undergo a similar procedure; if the bills are successfully passed in both the House and Senate, they will then be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he can decide whether to sign them into law.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

House Commerce Committee Aligned on Telecom, Mapping and Supply Chain Security, Says Ranking Member



Photo from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' website

March 18, 2021 – House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, said Wednesday that the committee was among the most bipartisan on issues including telecom.

Rodgers, who was speaking at the Internet Innovation Alliance with co-chair Bruce Mehlman, said that her Republican colleagues have put forth 28 solutions that would remove regulatory barriers and streamline broadband processes yet demonstrate funding is being spent wisely. She called on the government to ensure cost-effective ways to spend federal dollars.

She said the committee’s priority must be on accurate broadband mapping. That requires funding for more granular data. She also argued for national security against China, including on solar and wind energy products.

Rodgers also said she was excited about low-earth orbit satellites and the potential future they bring in connecting parts of the country with internet that have been “economically unfeasible in the past.”

Asked of her thoughts on virtual learning from home, especially how her 14-year old son with down syndrome is faring, Rodgers said she was completely in favor of reopening schools safely because not all parents have the means to provide optimal learning spaces at home.

Calling herself a working mother who could afford to provide an assistant to help her son through his school day, Rodgers said it was not the best way to learn when compared to in-person schooling.

This came after she said the country has the best networks and “some of the fastest speeds at the lowest prices in the world for internet service.”

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast News

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner