Key Democrats unveil another spectrum draft bill


The search for spectrum space to use for wireless broadband has been keeping Capitol Hill staffers occupied all year, and in the House, another discussion draft has emerged in the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The latest comes from Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Communications Subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA). As in other House proposals, broadcast television protections are built in.

The Waxman-Eshoo effort, called the Public Safety Broadband and Wireless Innovation Act, enshrines concepts broadcasters are looking for, such as a guarantee that participation in incentive auctions is entirely voluntary, that service contours must be maintained in the event a station needs to be relocated, and that all expenses incurred by moving broadcasters are picked up by the government.

It also would require the FCC to do a complete spectrum inventory.

“The draft legislation reflects our view on how we can best help our nation meet its current and future needs for wireless broadband spectrum and address the pressing need to provide public safety with advanced communications capabilities,” said Rep. Waxman.  “There are important differences between our approach and the Republicans’, but I hope that we will be able to work together to develop a bipartisan consensus.”

“Democrats and Republicans have been working towards a common goal – to put forward much-needed legislation to address our nation’s growing need for spectrum and to provide first responders with a nationwide, interoperable broadband network,” said Rep. Eshoo.  “While much work remains to address these very real needs, I remain optimistic that we can produce a bipartisan bill.  I believe we need to come together for our first responders, innovators, and the American people.”

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith commented, “NAB appreciates the efforts of Reps. Waxman and Eshoo in support of broadcast spectrum auctions that are truly voluntary. We will work with them and others in Congress on a final outcome that protects against loss of free and local TV broadcasting for the tens of millions of viewers who watch our stations every day.“

The  Waxman-Eshoo draft can be accessed here.