Policy: Lawmakers Pave the Way For the Future of Broadband

January 30, 2017

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working to pass a bill to boost mobile networks, giving rural areas access to fast, next generation technology.

Wireless technology, it’s something Americans rely on everyday and the demand for mobile broadband continues to grow. However, almost 34 million Americans don’t have the high-speed internet access or broadband they need.

“I live in Montana and I became a technology entrepreneur, in a rural part of Montana,” said Diane Smith with Mobile Future.

Smith knows just how important it is to be connected, especially in a small town.

“One of the reasons I could do it is because I could start my company in a coffee shop with WIFI,” Smith said.

With next generation 5G on the horizon, wireless companies need access to a finite and valuable resource — spectrum, it’s what makes our wireless devices work anytime, anywhere. That’s why Smith is supporting the Mobile Now Act, which aims to make more 5G wireless spectrum available for commercial use in the future.

“Any time we have more spectrum to put into infrastructure, the services just cascade out,” Smith explained. “So, we are really excited when we look at things like rural health, when we look at things like rural education, rural commerce and working with entrepreneurs that are located off the beaten path.”

The bill will free up hundreds of megahertz of spectrum by the year 2020 and will make it easier to install broadband infrastructure, strengthening the signal in even the most rural areas.

“In the end, our goal is to make sure that when 5G technology is available, it’s easier to deploy it in rural areas of the country,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD). “One of the most obvious ways is creating additional spectrum.”

Senator John Thune (R-SD) is introducing the bill for a second time, after it got tied up on the Senate floor last session.

“We hope it will pass this time. We did file it, wanted to get the bill out there early,” Sen. Thune said.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill this week with bipartisan support. It now heads to the Senate floor.

This story was originally published on Gray TV. Click here to read the full story.