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Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed several pieces of legislation focused on improving next-generation wireless networks and broadband infrastructure deployment, ensuring that rural areas have reliable voice services and protecting consumers from spoofing.
- The MOBILE NOW Act (S. 19), sponsored by Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), directs the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to free up substantial spectrum for commercial and unlicensed public use, as well as improve broadband infrastructure deployment.
- The Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act (S. 96), sponsored by Senator Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairman Thune (R-SD), and Senator Tester (D-MT), aims to improve the reliability of rural communications by setting up service standards or intermediate providers that interconnect rural communications traffic. The companion bill (H.R. 460) passed the House in January, led by Rep. Young (R-IA).
- The Spoofing Prevention Act (S. 134), sponsored by Senator Nelson (D-FL), expands the prohibition on misleading information on the source of communications, also known as the act of “spoofing,” to text messaging and improving consumer education about this deception. A companion bill (H.R. 423) passed the House in January, led by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY).
The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“We applaud the passage of the MOBILE NOW Act and thank Senators Thune and Nelson for their leadership in shepherding this bill through the Senate. The MOBILE NOW Act promotes efficient use of Federal spectrum and will free up significant bandwidth for commercial licensed and unlicensed use. Further, the bill’s unanimous approval by the Senate Commerce Committee and the full Senate demonstrates the overwhelming consensus that unlicensed spectrum and democratized access to the public airwaves are key drivers to economic growth and innovation.
“The MOBILE NOW Act also facilitates additional broadband infrastructure deployment on federal lands and ensures that federally funded transportation projects accommodate broadband infrastructure. As a result, this legislation will pave the way for the development and deployment of next-generation 5G wireless networks and help improve access to broadband networks.
“Public Knowledge also applauds the passage of the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act and the Spoofing Prevention Act. Passage of these bills illustrates that the fundamental values that are the basis of our telecommunications policy, including reliability and consumer protection, are universal and must be protected as communications networks and technologies continue to evolve.”