Schatz, Markey, Cantwell Introduce Legislation To Raise Billions For Rural Broadband, Public Safety Through Public Auction Of C-Band Spectrum

Legislation Would Create A New Trust Fund To Help Close Digital Divide, Including For Use In Health Care and Education

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced new legislation that would raise billions of dollars to improve public safety and broadband in rural areas, including for use in education and health care, through a public auction of wireless frequencies on the C-band spectrum. The Investing in America’s Digital Infrastructure Act would provide a framework for a transparent and competitive auctioning process of spectrum in a key band that is critical to deploying next generation mobile services. The bill also designates that nearly all proceeds from the auction be used to bridge the digital divide and enable next generation public safety services.

“Our bill will raise billions so that more people can access the internet,” said Senator Schatz. “As technology accelerates, we need to do more to close the digital divide and help ensure that everyone benefits.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Investing in America’s Digital Infrastructure Act. A public auction of this critical mid-band spectrum is the most transparent and accountable way to generate tens of billions dollars of revenue, which our legislation then invests in bridging the digital divide and enhancing public safety. I look forward to pushing for this bill so we can both win the race to 5G, while providing new broadband infrastructure to Americans who still need fast, affordable, reliable broadband,” said Senator Markey.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance 5G services and at the same time generate revenue to close the digital divide and upgrade our nation’s 9-1-1 call centers to next-generation technology—all through a proven, transparent process. The American taxpayers deserve nothing less,” said Senator Cantwell.

The Investing in America’s Digital Infrastructure Act would ensure a fair, transparent public auction, and would require revenue from the auction to go towards improving rural broadband. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require the FCC to conduct a public auction of C-band;
  • Require the FCC to make available at least 200 MHz of spectrum; and
  • Deposit nearly all auction proceeds to a Digital Divide Trust Fund, which would be used for rural broadband, including for use in education and health care, and for the deployment of Next Generation 911 services.

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