House subcommittee schedules spectrum bill markup

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 The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved Chairman Jay Rockefeller's (D-W. Va.) spectrum bill, S. 911, in June, but the measure has not come up for a vote in the full Senate. The Senate bill empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction spectrum that currently belongs to television broadcasters. The program would be voluntary, but the government would split the auction revenue with the participating television stations.

Wireless companies, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers, are expected to buy the television spectrum at auction.

The Senate bill also allocates the D-Block of spectrum to build a public safety broadband network. The wireless network would allow first-responders to communicate using video and data during emergencies and would also help officials from different agencies communicate with each other.

Walden and full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) support establishing a public safety wireless network but want to use other spectrum bands so that the D Block can be auctioned to private companies. 

Walden said the bill includes funds to establish the network but did not mention whether it would use the D Block.

“This legislation will create thousands of jobs, establish an interoperable public safety network, and reduce the deficit," he said.

Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said last month that Democrats plan to offer an amendment to allocate the D Block to public safety if the Republican bill does not include the provision.