Pa. (WTAJ) — A bill that seeks to bring high-speed internet to rural communities in Central Pennsylvania was unanimously approved by the House on Monday.
The 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (5G SALE) Act would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to release previously auctioned bands of the electromagnetic spectrum to expand access to 5G broadband to rural communities.
The bill was introduced by 13th District Congressman John Joyce.
“We need to find ways to cut the red tape and reduce the barriers to that online access in order to bridge the digital divide,” Joyce said.
The FCC sold approximately 8,000 licenses to grant internet providers access to America’s broadband spectrum. These licenses are the only way companies can legally use the radio waves that bring 5G internet to customers.
“We need to find ways to cut the red tape and reduce the barriers to that online access in order to bridge the digital divide.”
During the period between when providers paid for these licenses and when the FCC should have parceled the licenses out, there was a lapse in the FCC’s ability to authorize the use of these radio waves. Now, despite internet providers having fully purchased the frequencies necessary to deliver 5G internet, the FCC has stated they are unable to issue these licenses.
The 5G Sale Act grants the FCC a one-time, temporary authority to issue licenses purchased in auctions in order to speed the delivery of 5G technology to rural communities.
It’s especially important for a few counties here in Central Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been to the emergency centers in Blair, in Bedford, in Cambria County, and I know they need access. And often when someone calls in on their cell phone, and they can’t make that connection, it’s a safety issue,” Joyce said.
Now that the House has passed the bill, it will move on to President Biden’s desk.