Legislation to Close Urban-Rural Divide Reintroduced


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As Senate lawmakers count down the days before adjourning for summer break this Friday, several Senators reintroduced the Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum (AIRWAVES) Act. The measure, if passed, would encourage the federal government to continue to free up spectrum for commercial licensed and unlicensed use.

Specifically, the legislation establishes a spectrum pipeline that will provide more capacity for wireless providers to improve existing service and expand to new areas. 

The AIRWAVES Act also aims to motivate industry and federal agencies to find ways to be more spectrum efficient and avoid a spectrum crunch, and lay the groundwork for 5G. The measure requires 10 percent of all of the proceeds from spectrum auctions to go directly to wireless broadband infrastructure buildout in unserved and underserved rural communities. 

Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sponsored the bill. Gardner called the AIRWAVES Act “bipartisan, common sense legislation.”

The National Association of Tower Erectors and the Competitive Carriers Association praised the bill. “Industry access to spectrum ultimately equates to more deployment opportunities for NATE member companies,” said NATE Executive Director Todd Schlekeway. “Additionally, the association appreciates the provision that requires 10 percent of spectrum auction proceeds to go directly to fund wireless broadband infrastructure build-outs in rural and underserved areas this will provide a needed boost to help close the digital divide.”

Calling spectrum the “lifeblood of wireless carriers,” CCA President/CEO Steve Berry said: “making additional spectrum available for commercial use will greatly benefit consumers, industry and the economy as a whole, while the rural dividend provision will help close the digital divide.”

July 31, 2019        

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