Lance introduces bipartisan bill to enable wider 5G deployment across America
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) on Feb. 6 introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum (AIRWAVES) Act, H.R. 4953, a measure to broaden 5G wireless connectivity for more Americans.
“The bipartisan AIRWAVES Act is the kind of bill that will make a difference in the lives of internet users,” said Rep. Lance, vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee. “By opening up more federal spectrum for commercial usage we are helping lay the groundwork for 5G.”
Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) joined Lance in introducing H.R. 4953. U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) is among the seven original cosponsors of the bill.
If enacted, H.R. 4953 would encourage the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to hold auctions for unlicensed spectrum bands — spectrum is the range of the radio frequencies which telecommunication signals and wireless data utilize — thereby freeing them up for 5G broadband service deployment, according to a summary provided by Lance’s office.
Making additional spectrum available would allow wireless providers to offer better data service in addition to better coverage, according to Lance. In turn, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth services could be more effectively and widely used, encouraging further development of such technologies.
The bill also would direct that 10 percent of spectrum auction proceeds specifically be dedicated to developing 5G infrastructure in rural areas of the country to help close the digital divide, said Rep. Doyle. “These are much needed investments that would benefit unserved and underserved communities,” Doyle said.
Lance agreed, adding that the nation has “… to close the connectivity divide and bring reliable Internet service to a larger segment of Americans — especially those in unserved areas. And with multi-device households on the rise, we need more data to stay connected. All consumers need a system with faster speed, better reliability and affordable options.”
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who introduced the bipartisan companion Senate bill, S. 1682, in August 2017 along with Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), said last summer that the AIRWAVES Act also “offers innovative ways to avoid a spectrum crunch.” Cell phones, WiFi networks, satellites and television, among others, require spectrum to operate, but it’s a limited resource, according to the senators, who said the bill would encourage more efficient use of spectrum and well-timed spectrum auctions. S. 1682 awaits consideration by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
The House version has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.