Commerce Chair Cantwell Releases Spectrum and National Security Act

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Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the Spectrum and National Security Act, comprehensive legislation that will modernize the nation’s spectrum policy to protect our communications networks against foreign adversaries, restore Federal Communications Commission auction authority, secure critical broadband funding to keep Americans connected, and invest in CHIPS and Science innovation initiatives that will boost U.S. technological competitiveness. The Spectrum and National Security Act:

  1. Modernizes Federal Spectrum Management: The federal government utilizes spectrum across agencies – from military operations to emergency preparedness alerts. The legislation creates a balanced process to maximize government spectrum usage and promote interagency cooperation. This coordination will position the United States to lead on wireless innovation and protect national security interests with American-led technology at home and around the world.  
  2. Grows the Spectrum Pipeline: This legislation creates an efficient solution to spectrum management by directing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and spectrum-using federal agencies to conduct feasibility assessments to find unused bands and maximize availability for all users from government to businesses.
  3. Invests in New Innovative Technology: This legislation invests in wireless technology innovation like Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to maximize this finite resource by enabling multiple users to access the same spectrum bands. This includes providing $25 million to the NTIA and the Department of Defense to research and develop advanced spectrum technologies such as Dynamic Spectrum Sharing.
  4. Reignites the FCC’s Auction Authority: The legislation restores the FCC commercial auction authority, which lapsed on March 9, 2023, and extends the authority for five years, until September 30, 2029. The FCC has been unable to auction commercial spectrum for over a year, hamstringing those providers trying to meet the surging spectrum demands of wireless consumers. The auction authority will provide funding for critical technology research and development initiatives.
  5. Supports Workforce Training Programs: This legislation creates a new Telecommunications Workforce Training Grant Program to prepare America’s labor force for the future. $500 million in grants will be awarded to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-serving Institutions to develop education and job training programs for students to enter the telecommunications and spectrum workforce.
  6. Boosts Tech Hubs and Science: This legislation provides a critical boost in funding to science agencies and CHIPS and Science initiatives so the United States can continue to lead global innovation. It includes $2 billion for the Department of Commerce’s Regional Tech Hubs Program to fully fund more Hubs across the nation and award more strategy development grants. It provides $3 billion to boost the CHIPS manufacturing incentives program. It also provides $5 billion for NSF and NIST research programs, including critical funding for NIST facilities maintenance and construction.
  7. Keeps Americans Connected Online: Currently, more than 23 million households nationwide rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program for work, school, health care and more, but risk losing service if the program is not renewed. By using proceeds from commercial auctions, this legislation provides $7 billion to continue funding this critical bipartisan program for American households. This legislation also provides $200 million for nonprofits to work with Minority-serving Institutions, including Tribal communities, to prepare funding applications for broadband infrastructure and digital equity programs created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  8. Secures American Networks and Supports Rural Providers: As the nation works to secure our telecommunications networks and remove unsecure Chinese Huawei and ZTE equipment from communities, states and rural providers are facing financial burdens in the process – some on the verge of bankruptcy. Without funding to “rip and replace” this equipment, many providers may be forced to cut off service to residents. By using proceeds from commercial auctions, this legislation provides $3 billion to continue funding the bipartisan Rip and Replace Program.
  9. Invests in Next Gen 911: The bill provides $2 billion to continue funding the Next Generation 911 initiative to upgrade emergency services to be faster and more resilient and allow for voice, photos, videos, and text messages to work in the 911 system.

Cantwell Leads Innovative Spectrum Legislation to Strengthen National Security, Keep Millions of Consumers Connected & Boost US