Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

Marco Rubio Zeroes In on Wireless Policy Proposals

Conservative Political Action Conference

Rubio speaks during the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference on March 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio spoke at the startup group 1776 on Wednesday about what he wants to see in wireless policy. The prospective Republican presidential candidate says his proposal to reallocate 200 megahertz of government spectrum is his “entrance into the discussion.”

The Floridian’s speech follows talks at the Washington headquarters of two tech industry leaders a couple months ago. Rubio gave a speech at Uber’s Washington headquarters in March and a high-profile speech that same month at Google’s Washington office on his economic policy proposals that included one to reallocate government spectrum for commercial wireless use.

That proposal: reallocate 200 megahertz of spectrum, with auctions starting in 2018 that would be staggered, and let portions of the proceeds be used by agencies for research and development as an incentive. The bill’s going to be introduced this week.

“I know there is disagreement over how to reallocate spectrum, and there are many ideas on improving federal spectrum used,” he said in written remarks. “This bill represents my entrance into the discussion, and I look forward to working on it with all who are interested.”

Another proposal from Rubio — more WiFi:

The FCC has already taken steps to free up the lower 5 gigahertz bands, but more must be done to expand Wi-Fi elsewhere in the band. In order to do that, we must test these systems. We must identify how Wi-Fi can coexist with incumbent systems, and we must solve for harmful interference.

He adds that he’ll introduce legislation that “directs the FCC to conduct testing in this band and modify its rules to allow Wi-Fi use — if the testing shows that there is not harmful interference to incumbent systems. This bill sets a timeline and a structure for an evidenced-based decision that will happen rapidly enough to address this fast moving problem.” Last year, he touched on sharing and using unlicensed spectrum in remarks for the Free State Foundation.

On wireless infrastructure, Rubio says:

Mobile data traffic is growing exponentially. The Internet of Things will be a reality. Therefore, data has to move faster, and coverage and capacity have to increase. That means more wireless infrastructure is needed.

Government at all levels should not be a barrier to deployment. Confusing statutes and outdated local rules and regulations should not stand in the way of deploying infrastructure or modifying wireless facilities.

His third bill in the pipeline is one that would  “require action to complete the common application for deployment on federal lands and facilities, and it will update current law to account for today’s non-tower structures and co-location of wireless facilities.”

It’s no surprise that wireless groups were happy with Rubio’s remarks.

Jot Carpenter, vice president of government affairs at CTIA, the Wireless Association, released this statement:

We’re excited Senator Rubio is so committed to encouraging continued growth and innovation in the wireless ecosystem. Forward-looking spectrum policy like this bill will encourage investment and economic growth, while helping the wireless industry to stay ahead of consumers’ continued demand for mobile broadband.

Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of PCIA, a wireless infrastructure group, said about Rubio’s wireless infrastructure bill:

His proposed legislation would eliminate unnecessary hurdles that slow the delivery of broadband services to the public. This legislation will pave the way for broadband investments that will create jobs, economic growth and enhance public safety.

Of course, there’s the question of whether any of Rubio’s legislative proposals will go anywhere – he’s a Republican in a Senate with a Democratic majority and just a few months remain before the November elections and the end of the 113th Congress.

  • dav

    Money talks clearly !

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