In today’s modern digital age, the telecommunications industry has become the backbone of individual communication and commerce. Smart phones have more powers and capabilities today than most desktop computers had just a decade ago. Phone applications (apps) are improving lives by leaps and bounds, including in the health care and education sectors.
As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I have worked tirelessly to enact policies that grow our telecommunications sector, increase transparency and accountability, facilitate private sector innovation, and enhance access to broadband internet services in rural areas like those in the 16th District of Illinois.
One of my bills, the Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act, was designed to expand wireless broadband coverage in rural communities. This legislation was signed into law as part of a larger bipartisan telecommunications-related package called the RAY BAUM’s Act, which reauthorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), boosted the development of 5G technologies, and instituted other commonsense reforms in government.
My work in the telecommunications field is not limited to smart phones and wireless carriers. I also work to support the telecommunications networks that public safety professionals use daily to protect and serve their communities. I have utmost respect for these civil servants, who serve as the glue that keeps communities together and help to combat and recover from potential tragedies tireless to keep their neighbors safe. I have introduced legislation that would better allow licensed amateur radio operators, or HAMs, to serve as a valuable resource for emergency responders.
During emergencies such as hurricanes or earthquakes, lines of communication often suffer, which makes it extremely difficult to coordinate emergency response efforts. HAMs have a track record of selflessly supplementing the efforts of federal, state, and local officials to organize and better coordinate and communicate vital safety information, all at no cost to the taxpayer. It’s critical that we support these radio operators and the resources they need.