Five Communications and Technology Bills Pass House

Five technology-related bills passed the House of Representatives in recent days, according to a release. The news broke Tuesday, the same day that the Congressional body greenlighted the laws that will purportedly improve U.S. emergency response efforts and strengthen the telecommunications industry. According to the release issued by the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, the bills, preserving landline phone numbers after natural disasters, fortifying communications networks in times of emergency, improving media diversity, and helping ensure secure 5G wireless connectivity, enjoyed bipartisan support with passage by a 319-105 en bloc vote.

The first of two disaster-related bills, H.R. 678, the Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies Act of 2021 or the PHONE Act, would prohibit voice service providers from reassigning subscriber phone numbers and imposing early termination fees and connection fees to re-subscribe at a new address upon Americans whose residence is rendered inaccessible or uninhabitable due to a serious disaster. A second bill, H.R. 1250, the Emergency Reporting Act, would mandate that the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) create protocol in instances when it activates the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). 

H.R. 1754, the “Measuring the Economics Driving Investments and Access for Diversity Act of 2021” or the “MEDIA Diversity Act,” would require the FCC to contemplate, with the input from a specialized, internal office, entry obstacles posed to socially disadvantaged individuals in communications industry markets. Relatedly, the legislative body passed H. Res. 277, a resolution purportedly reaffirming the House’s commitment to media diversity. The resolution further pledges “to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity,” according to the Energy and Commerce Committee press release.

Finally, H.R. 3003, the “Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2021,” would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to encourage American companies and other stakeholder participation in standards-setting bodies. It would also offer technical assistance to those who elect to join in standard development for 5G and future communications networks. 

In the press release, Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) urged the senate to take up and pass the bills expediently.