U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. As part of the Committee’s oversight responsibilities, this hearing will examine the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the agency’s role in managing federal spectrum and representing U.S. interests with the global internet multistakeholder community. Additionally, the hearing will look at how NTIA is working to deliver a modern National Broadband Map capable of providing better service availability data, along with other major policy issues before NTIA.
- The Honorable David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman John Thune
Welcome to today’s hearing on oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
This is Assistant Secretary Redl’s first appearance before the Committee since his nomination was approved by the Senate last November.
We welcome you back and look forward to hearing what NTIA has accomplished under your leadership and what you have planned for the future.
As you know, it is NTIA’s mission to advise the President on domestic and international telecommunications and information policy issues.
This makes NTIA a major driver in fulfilling the Commerce Department’s mission to promote job creation and economic growth while making sure the Federal government has the spectrum it needs.
NTIA has a critical role to play in ensuring that Americans benefit from next-generation telecommunications technology and the United States maintains its leadership in such technology.
Maintaining American leadership will require the identification of more spectrum for next-generation services, both licensed and unlicensed, including spectrum currently allocated for federal use.
It’s important that we build upon the success of the recently enacted MOBILE NOW Act, which I sponsored along with Ranking Member Nelson, to ensure that spectrum will be available for new technologies, including 5G.
This will make it easier to deploy networks that deliver better, faster internet to rural areas and across the country.
Earlier this year, NTIA took a good first step and announced that it has identified 100 megahertz of spectrum—the 3450 to 3550 megahertz band—for potential repurposing for commercial wireless innovation.
I am glad to see NTIA move so quickly on a priority outlined in MOBILE NOW.
But as I have stated many times, MOBILE NOW was just a down payment.
There is much more to do to ensure that the American economy reaps the benefits of next-generation telecommunications.
We will look to you to help ensure that America’s spectrum resources are used efficiently.
I look forward to hearing how you intend to do more, and whether NTIA has all the tools it needs to get the job done.
Of course, identifying and freeing up spectrum is only part of the equation.
Knowing what parts of the country are unserved and prioritizing deployment in those areas is crucial to closing the digital divide.
Mapping broadband availability relies on the quality of broadband data.
Since the initial deployment of broadband in the 1990s, two federal agencies have implemented broadband data mapping initiatives—NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission.
While each agency has identified areas of the nation in need of further development, everyone can agree that such mapping can and should be improved.
That is why, earlier this year, NTIA was appropriated funds to deliver a modern National Broadband Map, which hopefully will provide more accurate mapping of the current state of broadband access across the nation.
On the topic of deployment, FirstNet, which operates as an independent authority within NTIA, has awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to AT&T to build out a nationwide public safety network.
As of January 19, 2018, all states, five territories, and the District of Columbia had opted into the public safety network.
FirstNet has established a schedule with goals for deploying the network and milestones for public safety user adoption and I am very pleased to see that the Oglala Sioux Police Department in South Dakota is leading the way in implementing FirstNet.
The state-of-the-art technology will allow the Oglala Sioux officers to better serve and protect tribal members and the public generally.
I am interested to hear what oversight efforts NTIA is conducting to ensure FirstNet meets its deployment and adoption goals throughout the country to safeguard the speedy and efficient deployment of this network, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
Our first responders deserve nothing less.
Also, NTIA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been jointly tasked with providing $115 million in grants to support the implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1 nationwide.
It is important that joint undertakings between differing agencies run smoothly.
Getting the most effective use out of taxpayer dollars for this critical service is something the Commerce Committee is paying close attention to and hopes to hear an update about today.
Finally, on the issue of Internet governance, as of October 1, 2016, NTIA allowed its contracts with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to expire, transferring NTIA’s stewardship role and procedural authority over key Internet domain name functions to a global Internet multistakeholder community.
Earlier this month, NTIA released a Notice of Inquiry seeking comments on “its international Internet policy priorities.”
I am interested to hear about how NTIA can leverage its resources and expertise to ensure the growth and openness of the internet.
Again, I want to thank Assistant Secretary Redl for being here and now I turn it over to the Ranking Member.
I want to welcome Assistant Secretary Redl. Oversight of the entities within our jurisdiction, such as NTIA, is one of the most important responsibilities of this committee.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your commitment that we would have regular oversight hearings. In that vein, I think we are due for an oversight hearing that includes all sitting members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
FCC Chairman Pai has initiated the most aggressive deregulatory – and in my opinion, anti-consumer – agenda in the history of the FCC. Those actions demand the scrutiny of this committee. I look forward to that oversight hearing soon.
Back to Mr. Redl. You are the principal advisor to the president on telecommunications and information policy issues. You speak with the voice of the administration on these issues both domestically and internationally. This committee has a number of questions for you.
First, we have been told for over a year that infrastructure was a key priority of this administration – and that broadband would be an essential component of an infrastructure plan. I support this fully.
While the state of Florida has been blessed with some of the nation’s most advanced internet networks, the reality is that in places from rural Dixie, Levy and Gilchrist counties to the heart of Jacksonville, constituents and businesses still lack access to quality, affordable, high-speed internet access.
These areas are being left behind. We need to hear from you as to why this administration has no plan to provide real, tangible support for internet network construction in these areas.
Second, this administration seems to have dismissed the concerns many in the Senate, the intelligence community and the nation have about the potential threat posed to our national security by Huawei and ZTE. The administration’s simply needs to revert back to a ban on ZTE.
We need to hear how you respond to the grave concerns raised with respect to the effectiveness of the penalties levied on the company in lieu of the ban.
Third, this administration’s relationships with our international colleagues appear to be at an all-time low. These relationships are essential to your work with our partners to preserve a free and open internet, harmonize spectrum and establish basic norms for international telecommunications regulation.
In particular, important decisions will be made during next year’s World Radiocommunication Conference regarding the international framework for next-generation wireless systems and satellite communications. We also want to hear that our government can be trusted to uphold our end of any bargains you may reach in these international forums.
Finally, let me end by acknowledging the important work that the NTIA has performed under your leadership.
Specifically, I am pleased that the national 9-1-1 program that you operate jointly with NHTSA is finally moving forward on its next generation 9-1-1 grant program. As you know, Senator Klobuchar and I have introduced legislation to expand and enhance that grant program and help states and localities make next generation 9-1-1 systems a reality throughout the nation.
Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the horrific Pulse nightclub attack. Had the federal government helped states and localities deploy next generation 9-1-1 sooner, the brave men and women who manned the Orlando-area call centers would have had access to more advanced tools to respond to this tragedy. For example, we know from reports that some of victims in the club who were afraid to make a voice call tried to text 9-1-1 but could not.
This is a national priority – lives are on the line. I hope and expect that you will continue to work cooperatively with us as we try to advance this proposal.
And thank you again, Mr. Redl, for your willingness to serve the public in this vital role.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable David J. RedlAssistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, NTIAU.S. Department of Commerce