Broadband Bills Head to Senate Commerce Markup

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a couple of broadband-related bills for its first markup in the new Congress, which is scheduled for Jan. 24. They are the MOBILE Now Act and DIGIT Act.

A markup is an executive session at which bills are amended and then either reported favorably out of the committee for full Senate approval, not reported favorably, or held for more work.

MOBILE Now was re-introduced Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress. The bipartisan bill, which is meant to boost the buildout of 5G mobile broadband, tracks one passed by voice vote in the committee in March.

Among the things the bill would do is put into law an Obama executive order that 500 MHz of federal and nonfederal spectrum be made available for wireless broadband by 2020. The bill would also stipulate that the spectrum be below 6000 Mhz.

It would also speed permitting and for infrastructure, express the "sense of Congress" that "safe and efficient" dig-once policies should be adopted by federal agencies, and provide incentives for federal spectrum users to share or give it up.

The DIGIT (Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things) Act, which was introduced in the last Congress, following up on a resolution that passed the Senate last March that called for a national strategy on IoT, would "convene a working group of federal entities that would consult with private sector stakeholders to provide recommendations to Congress." Those would include on how to encourage the growth of IoT, seeking input from the private sector to help prevent "regulatory silos." It would also direct the FCC to launch a proceeding on the spectrum needs of IoT.

It was reintroduced last week.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.