Bills to Boost Broadband Access Pass House Subcommittee

Bills to Boost Broadband Access Pass House Subcommittee

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2015 Apartment Resident Preferences Survey, in addition to a convenient location, renters desire fast Internet access. With a growing demand for such a service, the House Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently unanimously passed two bipartisan pieces of legislation aimed at increasing high-speed Internet access across the country.

The first and more targeted bill is the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, which is aimed at pushing federal government agencies to give up some of their much-needed wireless spectrum that they control but don’t currently use. If they participate, those agencies would be eligible to receive some of the money earned by auctioning off the airwaves to offset recent budget cuts or for other programmatic spending.

Spectrum refers to a range of frequencies used for wireless transmission of data, video, and sound. As demand grows for wireless broadband, more spectrum is needed to handle transmission.

The second and larger piece of legislation consists of several smaller proposals that have bipartisan support and are seen as common-sense steps that the government can take to bolster broadband access. Some of these provisions include streamlining the permitting process to allow for easier access by broadband providers to construct necessary infrastructure on federal lands. They would also require broadband conduits to be installed during the construction of federally funded highway projects.

Both pieces of legislation, if enacted, could have the potential to greatly benefit multifamily sites and their residents in ensuring greater access to high-speed Internet, particularly mobile broadband. The full Energy and Commerce Committee will need to consider the legislation next before passage is secured by the full House of Representatives. The Senate does not have companion legislation at this point.