House E&C OKs Broadband Bills

Wrapping up a long two days, the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved a handful of bipartisan broadband and tech-related bills on a variety of topics, from broadband mapping and network security to freeing up spectrum.

Related: House Schedules Communications Bills Markup

There were a handful of amendments adopted without opposition as the legislators tried to wrap up the proceedings expeditiously.

Bills being favorably reported for a vote in the full House were:

H.R. 4229, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act or the Broadband DATA Act, which requires the FCC to put out new rules on collecting more granular broadband availability data and verify its accuracy, something the FCC is already in the process of doing under pressure from Congress and others.

H.R. 4227, the Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act (MAPS Act), which would make it illegal for carriers to submit inaccurate data on broadband availability.

H.R. 5000, the Studying How to Harness Airwave Resources Efficiently Act of 2019 (SHARE Act), which requires the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which oversees federal spectrum, to consult with the FCC on a spectrum-sharing program and test bed.

H.R. 4998, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which requires the FCC to create and maintain a list of "communications equipment and services that pose an unacceptable risk to national security and prohibits the use of funds made available by FCC programs to purchase, rent, lease, or otherwise obtain such equipment and services." It also creates a program for helping smaller providers pay for removing and replacing suspect tech and services from their networks.

H.R. 4461, the Network Security Information Sharing Act of 2019, which would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, NTIA, and FCC, to create a program for sharing supply chain security risk information with communications service providers and suppliers.

H.R. 2881, the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2019, which would direct the President to develop a "Secure Next Generation Mobile Communications Strategy” in consultation with the heads of FCC, NTIA, and Department of Homeland Security, as well as the DNI and Secretary of Defense."

H.R. 4500, the Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2019, which directs NTIA to "encourage participation by trusted American companies and other stakeholders in standards-setting bodies, and to offer technical assistance to stakeholders that do elect to participate, in the course of developing standards for 5G networks and future generations of communications networks."

H. Res. 575, "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that all stakeholders in the deployment of 5G communications infrastructure should carefully consider and adhere to the recommendations adopted at the Prague 5G security conferences.

H.R. 4779, which extends the Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2006. It reauthorizes the U.S. SAFE WEB Act, "which amended the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act to improve the FTC’s ability to combat unfair or deceptive acts or practices that are international in scope, through FY 2027 and requires the FTC to issue a report to Congress describing the Commission’s use of and experience with the authority granted by the Act."

“The Energy and Commerce Committee passed eight critical bills today to fix our broadband maps, free up more of our nation’s airwaves and secure our telecommunications networks," said House E&C chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). "I’m especially proud of my bipartisan legislation that will ensure small and rural telecommunications companies have the support they need to root out suspect equipment from their networks made by companies like Huawei and Z.T.E. We simply cannot allow China, and other bad actors, to infiltrate our telecommunications networks. These are all good pieces of legislation that I hope will move to the House floor soon.”

“We are moving forward with critical legislation today that will help us achieve a broad range of our shared telecommunications priorities at Energy and Commerce," said House E&C ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio). "The bipartisan bills advanced to the House will help expand broadband access in rural America, secure our communications networks, and ensure proper management of federal spectrum resources. We are also moving forward with an agreement that, while not perfect, represents progress on STELAR that we can stand behind. This goes to show what we can achieve when we work together in a bipartisan way."

“We commend committee passage of this bipartisan legislation that improves our nation’s broadband mapping," said NCTA-The Internet & Television Association of the broadband mapping bill. "As an industry, cable internet providers share Congress’ desire to better identify those areas of the country without broadband service so that we can better target scarce resources to unserved areas where they are most needed. By supporting the FCC’s decision to make common sense improvements to data collection through the integration of ‘shapefile’ data that more accurately reflects provider service areas, we can improve on current results and build a better federal broadband map that more is more accurate and more effective. We look forward to full passage by the House.” 

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.