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Senate, House commerce take a hard look at wireless broadband policies

John Thune Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

Both the House and Senate commerce committees are scrutinizing spectrum and broadband policies and their impact on the nation’s wireless broadband infrastructure.

Senate commerce chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) confirmed Thursday that the committee would kick-off a series of hearings on wireless spectrum beginning with a July 29 hearing, “Wireless broadband and the future of spectrum policy.”

The hearing will look at the nation’s current spectrum policy and how it should be improved to meet consumer demand. Witnesses include Meredith Attwell Baker, CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association and former Federal Communications Commissioner; FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel; Blair Levin, former executive director, National Broadband Plan; Thomas Lenard, President and senior fellow, Technology Policy Institute; and Pierre de Vries, co-director of the spectrum policy initiative, Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado School of Law.

On the House side, the communications and technology subcommittee held the first of its series of hearings on how to promote more investment in broadband, which chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) described as “not for the faint of heart. Walden took particular aim at the General Services Administration, which was directed by Congress three years ago to develop a plan to make it easier to place wireless towers and antennae on government property and federal buildings.

“This is a statutory requirement they’ve largely failed to meet in three years. We’ll make sure they’ll do better than that,” Walden promised.