WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation delivered the following prepared remarks at today’s Federal Communications Commission oversight hearing:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing. I join you in welcoming Chairman Genachowski and each of the commissioners—thank you all for being here today.
We are living in the middle of the digital revolution, which is being powered in large part by the huge investments made by the broadband industry.
There is enormous potential for job creation and innovation in the broadband, Internet, and technology sectors, and this potential may be most evident in the area of mobile broadband.
According to a recent Cisco report, mobile data traffic in the U.S. grew 62 percent last year, and by 2017 there will be a 13-fold increase worldwide.
By one estimate, the nation’s mobile broadband industry directly or indirectly supports 3.8 million jobs, contributing more than $195 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product and driving $33 billion in productivity improvements in 2011.
Unfortunately, a single point of failure under the government’s control could jeopardize this great potential for job creation and innovation—access to wireless spectrum.
Mobility is driving the innovation economy, and spectrum is what fuels wireless mobility. Without enough spectrum, the private sector will not be able to keep pace with consumer demand, which is growing exponentially.
That is why we must make it a priority to increase the availability of spectrum for commercial uses as quickly as possible, and to do so in collaboration with industry and government stakeholders.
More broadly, I believe we must also focus on establishing a 21st century legal and regulatory structure that serves the purposes of our 21st century economy.
It is time for this Committee to take a look at modernizing our nation’s rules and regulations to better reflect today’s converged marketplace.
Our technology and telecommunications sectors have been profoundly changed by the Internet, yet much of our country’s communications laws were written in a pre-Internet
These sectors are characterized by extremely dynamic companies, and we must ensure that the FCC is as nimble as they are.
It has been 23 years since the FCC was last reauthorized by Congress, and it may be time to develop a new FCC reauthorization bill to ensure the Commission is an efficient and truly modern regulator—one that is a reliable resource for Congress and an effective agency for American citizens and industry alike.
While I’m very enthusiastic about the great potential of the digital revolution, I want to make sure that all consumers, including those in our rural communities, are able to enjoy the economic and societal benefits of the Internet.
Chairman Rockefeller, you and I share the same goal of getting rural America connected to advanced communications.
Some of the best network infrastructure in the world exists today in some of the most unlikely places due in no small part to your leadership and keen interest in making rural
America a priority.
Lastly, on the issue of sequestration, I have been disappointed by the Administration’s politically motivated scare tactics.
I hope that an independent commission like the FCC will not be just another agency following the White House’s lead in trying to find cuts that cantrigger a press release before looking to internal cost-saving measures that are less news-worthy.
Chairman Rockefeller, I look forward to working with you and with the Commission to unleash the great potential of the American people to create jobs and spur innovation for the 21st century economy. Thank you.