U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today led a hearing titled, “The Evolution of Next-Generation Technologies: Implementing MOBILE NOW.” The hearing examined the implementation of several mandates required by the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless (MOBILE NOW) Act. At the invitation of Thune, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken testified on MOBILE NOW’s spectrum provisions and the streamlining of broadband infrastructure deployment on federal lands, among other things. Thune is the author of the MOBILE NOW Act, which was signed into law in 2018.
Click here to watch Thune’s opening statement.
Thune’s opening statement (as prepared for delivery):
“Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing examining the implementation of the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act, also referred to as the MOBILE NOW Act.
“It is our job as policy makers, particularly those of us who serve on the Commerce Committee, to make sure that the United States is a leader in the deployment of next-generation technologies.
“To fulfill that obligation, we must ensure that the market has access to both licensed and unlicensed spectrum and that industry is not unnecessarily burdened when bringing this spectrum to market.
“That’s where the MOBILE NOW Act plays a crucial role.
“MOBILE NOW reflected several years of hard work by many of the members who serve on this Committee.
“This important legislation made a down payment on both spectrum and infrastructure needs, positioning the United States to lead in the race to 5G—a race that has major implications for our national security and economy.
“It is also our job as policy makers to make sure that legislative efforts, like the MOBILE NOW Act, are implemented thoroughly.
“MOBILE NOW required identifying 255 megahertz for mobile and fixed wireless use, including 100 megahertz of spectrum below 8 gigahertz for unlicensed use and 100 megahertz of spectrum below 6 gigahertz for commercial licensed use.
“Both licensed and unlicensed spectrum play an integral role in the communications landscape.
“Wi-Fi is responsible for a growing amount of the data transmitted in our homes and offices and will have an increasing role as we continue to expand the Internet of Things in the 5G era.
“One particular band that has a lot of promise for fulfilling much of the unlicensed requirement in MOBILE NOW is the 6 gigahertz band.
“The FCC has begun the process to permit unlicensed use in this band while also protecting the incumbents serving critical infrastructure.
“It is my hope the FCC will move expeditiously on finalizing rules for that band.
“As this Committee has discussed previously, 5G, which is expected to contribute $275 billion in new investment, $500 billion in economic growth, and three million new jobs requires the right spectrum and smart policies on how to bring the spectrum to market.
“I applaud the FCC for its successful auctions of millimeter wave spectrum important for 5G, but as we have all recognized, we need much more mid-band spectrum to provide the capacity and flexibility needed to build a robust 5G network.
“MOBILE NOW directed the Commission to evaluate commercial wireless use in the 3.7 to 4.2 gigahertz band or the C-Band, as it’s known, mid-band spectrum that is ideally suited for 5G deployment.
“I was encouraged to see Chairman Pai announce his intention to bring the spectrum to market through a public auction, and I want to make sure that happens with no additional delays.
“To achieve that goal, Chairman Wicker and I introduced the 5G Spectrum Act, legislation that would bring at least 280 megahertz of spectrum to market through a public auction and require that at least 50 percent of the fair market value of the spectrum be captured for the taxpayer.
“The other proceeds would help cover the costs of the auction and allow for the incumbents of the C-band to be fairly compensated for modifications to their infrastructure to clear the spectrum so that they can continue to serve broadcasters.
“Not having the right policies in place will slow our leadership in the deployment of next-generation technology, particularly in more rural areas, so I appreciate Chairman Wicker’s leadership on the 5G Spectrum Act and I look forward to working with him to move that legislation.
“In addition to the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has an important role with regard to spectrum.
“MOBILE NOW directed NTIA, in consultation with the FCC, to examine the feasibility of commercial services in the 3100 to 3550 megahertz frequencies.
“Last February, I was pleased NTIA identified the 3450 to 3550 megahertz frequencies as a potential candidate for shared use, but that is only a first step under its requirement in MOBILE NOW.
“Today, I, along with Chairman Wicker, wrote to Acting Administrator Diane Rinaldo asking NTIA to review the remainder of the band and identify any other frequencies for shared use.
“Access to the right spectrum is only one part of the challenge.
“It can take years and tremendous investment to deploy next-generation services.
“MOBILE NOW streamlined the process of applying for easements, rights of way, and leases for federally-managed property, and established a shot clock for review of those applications.
“It also established a National Broadband Facilities Asset Database listing Federal property that could be used by private entities for the purpose of building or operating communications facilities.
“And importantly, it helped reduce the costs of deploying fixed broadband by establishing a Dig Once policy.
“Like I said earlier, the MOBILE NOW Act incorporated many provisions from members on this Committee and it is our duty to make sure it is being implemented properly.
“Today, we are joined by a panel of expert witnesses to discuss the provisions in MOBILE NOW and give us a perspective on what needs to be done to continue advancing American leadership in next-generation technologies.
“I’d like to welcome Paul TenHaken, who serves as the mayor of Sioux Falls, SD. Mayor TenHaken has done exceptional work removing barriers to wireless infrastructure deployment, resulting in the city of Sioux Falls being one of the first 5G cities in the nation.
“We’re also joined by Mr. Scott Bergmann of CTIA, Ms. Mary Brown from Cisco, Mr. Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, and Ms. Sarah Morris from New America’s Open Technology Institute.
“Thank you all for being here and I’ll now turn to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.”