From smartphones to household appliances to cars, today's world is hungry for connectivity to a degree that is outpacing our broadband infrastructure. Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation that will make key improvements in the U.S. innovation ecosystem. Sponsored by Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the MOBILE NOW Act (S. 2555), if enacted, would provide certainty for new investment and innovation in wireless broadband technologies and infrastructure. This investment would be critical to meet current consumer demands and foster the cycle of innovation that brings about new technologies, drives demand, and creates jobs.
As we look toward growth in the Internet of Things (IoT), modern and robust broadband infrastructure will be essential to fully realize the benefits IoT promises to offer our society and economy. These benefits include increased productivity, new efficiencies, and most importantly, improved safety applications.
However, the potential for IoT will depend on “spectrum,” a term used to describe the radio frequencies that all wireless communications use. Because there are limited radio frequencies available, spectrum is a limited and valuable resource. The MOBILE NOW ACT takes steps toward addressing these needs by codifying strong goals for making new spectrum available for mobile use, both in licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and evaluates how all spectrum bands are used. Low, medium, and high band spectrum will each serve different needs in the wireless ecosystem, and the broad focus of this bill is forward looking, and will help meet consumer and industry needs for years to come.
Additionally, several important amendments were adopted by the Commerce Committee, including a “dig once” amendment offered by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Co.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), that implements a common-sense policy to install conduit under highways so fiber optic cable can more easily be deployed to improve our broadband networks.
We commend Chairman Thune and ranking member Nelson for working to move this bipartisan legislation through the Commerce Committee with such strong consensus, and encourage the Senate to take further action to ensure that the many benefits offered by the MOBILE NOW Act are passed into law.