A Huge Win for Americans in Rural Areas Who Need Broadband Access

Mar 06, 2018 | COMMUNICATIONS •

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement after the House passed the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users for Modern Services (RAY BAUM’s) Act (H.R. 4986), sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and spur the deployment of next-generation wireless services.

“The RAY BAUM’s Act is a huge win for millions of Americans who live in rural areas with limited and unreliable internet access, including families and business owners in Eastern Washington. Earlier this year, I urged the FCC to ensure an on-time completion of the 600 MHz repack so license-winners can deploy broadband to rural areas. The repack fund created in this bill will ensure broadcasters have the funds to complete their station relocations and solidify the success of the incentive auction. This, along with provisions to improve America’s competitiveness in 5G deployment, will close the digital divide so that more people–from families to farmers– can access the internet and engage in the 21st century economy.

“By passing this bipartisan bill, the House is also fulfilling its constitutional duty to restore its power of the purse by reauthorizing the FCC for the first time in 28 years. I would like to sincerely thank Chair Greg Walden and Rep. Marsha Blackburn for championing this legislation in the People’s House. I look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law.”

Note: In October 2017, Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sent a bipartisan letter with 54 members of Congress that urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to support an on-time completion of the broadcast incentive auction’s repack timeline.

The buildout resulting from the FCC’s recent auction of 600 MHz spectrum will make significant steps toward closing the digital divide. Click here to read the letter.

The RAY BAUM’s Act  is named for the late Energy and Commerce Committee Staff Director Ray Baum, a champion of telecommunications policy and longtime personal friend of Chair Walden, who lost his battle with cancer in February 2018.