Dear Colleague Letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. George Allen (R-VA).
Re: Staff Working Draft of the Jumpstart Broadband Act, a bill to require the FCC to allocate 255 megahertz of contiguous spectrum below 6 gigahertz for unlicensed use by wireless broadband devices.
Date: November 19, 2002.

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to ask you to join us in the next Congress in pursuing legislation to encourage the deployment and consumer adoption of broadband Internet services. Please find a discussion draft of the bill attached.

Most economics, telecommunications, and technology experts maintain that we need to deploy next-generation broadband Internet connections and bring our communications infrastructure into the 21st Century in order to reinvigorate growth in the technology and telecommunications industries. Economists at the Brookings Institution have estimated that widespread, high-speed broadband access would increase our national GDP by $500 billion annually by 2006. Promoting the deployment and adoption of broadband will help jumpstart the nation’s economy now and help sustain growth for years to come.

Unfortunately, much of the current debate in Congress over broadband services has focused on two platforms, cable and DSL, and whether we should support competition versus deregulation of telecommunications as the best mechanism for encouraging broadband deployment. This debate has reached an unproductive stalemate and fails to consider that other technologies are available that can jump-start consumer-driven investment and demand in broadband services.

In an effort to move us away from this debate and work within the framework of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, we will be pursuing legislation in the next Congress to foster a third, alternative mode of broadband communication – making more unlicensed spectrum available for exciting, new wireless technologies and requiring the FCC to design minimum rules of the road for broadband devices to operate in that spectrum.

The innovations and advances in the development of unlicensed wireless, radio-based networks, currently referred to as Wi-Fi offer an additional means of delivering data at high speed and also allow new business models for delivering broadband connectivity to emerge. These emerging unlicensed wireless technologies can support the transmission of data at high speeds and at low cost. This is especially compelling in rural areas where distance is so frequently the enemy of wire-line networks and the primary reason for the high cost of rural broadband deployment.

We ask you to join us in this bipartisan effort as we look forward to moving this Act in the coming Congress. If you would like more information regarding this legislation or have any questions, please contact either Danny Sepulveda (4-8134) in Senator Boxer’s office or Frank Cavaliere (4-8846) in Senator Allen’s office.


Barbara Boxer
United States Senator
George Allen
United States Senator