WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that five members of the Committee have signed on in support of the Small Business Access to Spectrum Act, which Pallone introduced two weeks ago. The bill’s supporters include Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-1), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-6), and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-3).
The five Democratic members of the Committee all announced their support today for Pallone’s legislation, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its rules that facilitate small business participation in spectrum auctions. The lawmakers also discussed the future of spectrum policy at a Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing two weeks ago.
“Small businesses are vital to our economy. New Jersey alone is home to over 800,000 small businesses, which are responsible for half of the jobs in the state. Without smart policies, these small businesses simply cannot survive in capital-intensive industries like telecommunications,” said Pallone. “This legislation helps give small businesses across the country the tools that they need to compete and thrive, and I am pleased that my colleagues are joining my efforts to enact these commonsense policies.”
“Our country is built on entrepreneurship the crux of small business. Congress challenges the FCC to include minority and small business owners who are often left on the sidelines,” said Rush. “Fundamental fairness and ethical fairness requires us to level the playing field.”
“By expanding opportunities to participate in spectrum auctions, we will support many small businesses owned by women and people of color – who remain substantially underrepresented in telecommunications – that want to obtain licenses to open television and radio stations and to enter the market for wireless services, sectors of the economy that continue to increase,” said Congresswoman Clarke, who has also been a member of the Small Business Committee since 2007. “This proposal has the potential both to create jobs and to increase diversity in our media.”
“The proposed legislation introduced by Congressman Pallone reminds us of the importance of the DE program and the timely reform of its rules. Congress must ensure that small businesses, and those owned by women and minorities have the chance to secure ownership opportunities in the burgeoning wireless marketplace,” said Butterfield. “We look forward to working with the other offices to preserve and strengthen this program ahead of the spectrum incentive auction.”
“Spectrum is a finite resource in our economy; there is only so much available. That is why it is important for the FCC to update its spectrum auction rules to ensure a competitive bidding process and that small businesses are able to compete for spectrum,” said Matsui. “I am pleased to cosponsor The Small Business Access to Spectrum Act that will preserve the ability of small businesses to fairly compete in future spectrum auctions.”
“Small businesses are the economic engine that drives the economy in New Mexico and our nation. That is why the Federal Communications Commission must act to ensure that small businesses can meaningfully participate in next year’s broadcast incentive auction,” said Luján. “I commend Ranking Member Pallone for introducing legislation directing the FCC to update its rule governing small business participation in spectrum auctions.”
Congress charges the FCC with developing rules for spectrum auctions that help small businesses and encourage competition. These competitive bidding rules were last comprehensively updated in 2006 and have not kept pace with the wireless marketplace. Next year, the FCC is planning to hold the world’s first incentive auction for “beachfront” broadcast spectrum that is most useful for wireless broadband. The Small Business Access to Spectrum Act would ensure the FCC’s competitive bidding rules are updated in time for real small businesses to have a chance to participate in the incentive auction.
The bill text can be found here.