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At Senate Commerce Hearing, Telecommunication Officials Applaud Hassan-Gardner AIRWAVES Act


Click here for video of the Senator’s questions.

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan participated in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearing today, where witnesses applauded Senator Hassan’s leadership in authoring, with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), the AIRWAVES Act, which focuses on closing the urban-rural digital divide and promoting 5G innovation. Senator Hassan questioned the witnesses on what 5G would mean for telemedicine, public safety, rural communities, and people living with disabilities.

“We talk about winning the race to 5G, and that's very important, but increasingly Americans are feeling like there are winners and there are losers.” Senator Hassan said. “We want everybody to be a part of this win. So this is really about how we partner together, you all doing what you do so well, and us all saying so let's make sure every American gets this technology sooner rather than later.”

Asked by Senator Hassan about how 5G would spur benefits for all consumers, Meredith Atwell Baker, President and CEO of CTIA, said, “I just want to first thank you for your leadership and thank Chairman Thune again for holding this hearing to make sure that this is a national priority, because it should be and it is, thanks to you. One of the reasons that your ‘all of the above approach’ in AIRWAVES is so good is because it does have high, medium, and low band spectrum in there, which will all be utilized for our 5G leadership.”

Senator Hassan also asked the witnesses how 5G networks could help those living with disabilities. 

Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Qualcomm, said, “I totally agree with everything that you said, and you actually hit a few topics that are of passionate interest to me, tomorrow being the 28th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability groups are very excited about the potential of 5G. For people who are blind or have low vison there's a company called Ira, just to pick one, that has connected goggles that connect to a remote agent who can then help the person see, in effect, where he or she wants to go and to interact. For people with disabilities, autonomous vehicles, which are going to be an important part of 5G, are completely a game changer.” 

Additionally, during the hearing, Senator Hassan entered a letter into the Congressional record from 16 different industry groups and associations who support the AIRWAVES Act, including Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), the American Library Association, and Public Knowledge.  

Senator Hassan introduced the bipartisan AIRWAVES Act with Senator Gardner in order encourage the federal government to continue to free up spectrum for commercially licensed and unlicensed use and leverage the success of spectrum auctions to help close the urban-rural divide. Senator Hassan also voted to approve the bipartisan Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act to improve the quality of communication in rural areas and helped introduce the Connected Government Act, which has been signed into law and requires all new federal websites to be mobile-friendly.