Click here or on the image above to watch Senator Capito’s questions.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, participated in a hearing titled “Spectrum and National Security,” which focused on creating a coordinated and comprehensive approach to internet connectivity that will help the U.S. lead in cybersecurity and counter any potential digital foreign threats.

During the hearing, Senator Capito questioned several witnesses, including Dr. Monisha Ghosh, professor of engineering at the University of Notre Dame, Executive Director of Wi-Fi Forward, Mary Brown, and Executive Director of the Open RAN Policy Coalition, Diane Rinaldo, on different connectivity technologies, addressing connectivity in rural areas, and ensuring reliable 911 coverage across West Virginia.



SEN. CAPITO: “If a regular citizen is sitting here listening about: ‘we're going to auction spectrum,’ what does that mean to them?”

DIANE RINALDO: “No, it's absolutely— and it’s incumbent upon us to articulate how we can get more coverage out to our rural communities, and that's a big part of this as well and exactly where the spectrum bands are coming into play, and then the carriers are able to build out in your- in your area.”


SEN. CAPITO: “The national radio quiet zone is in West Virginia. And we have half of that, but it restricts transmissions to allow for— so that it will allow for advanced scientific research and other sensitive technology operates without interference in a very remote part of our state. But where we're running into problems here, it also conflicts with the 911 service and the ability to deliver service. So, when you have a conflict like that, how in those sensitive areas can we continue to work so that you can you do the innovation that you need to do in the quiet zone area, but you can still serve our citizens on the 911? Does anybody have an answer for that?”

MARY BROWN: “That is a difficult question when you have quiet zones and that requires a lot of technical analysis to look at ‘are there wireless signals that could be propagated at low power, at a low level in order to deliver the 911 technology that you need, while not interfering with the radio astronomy.’ Radio astronomy also has a number of bands available to it and it may be that you have to ascertain which of those bands is going to be best if you are concerned about having 911 connectivity at that facility. It’s an engineering problem, yes.”

SEN. CAPITO: “Well, I mean, I'm thinking about the folks out in Pocahontas County where this is located. They're going to need some technical expertise. Obviously, the state can help, but this has been a chronic issue out there.”


SEN. CAPITO: “I'm from West Virginia, we need more connectivity. But to close the digital divide, I've been technology neutral because we have a lot of mountains. Not every technology works in our state. And fixed wireless has shown some promise. So how do you see the role of fixed wireless after future auctions playing out in the rural areas?”

DR. GHOSH: “I think the rural connectivity is about more than just spectrum. It's about having deployments. So, you can have all the spectrum in the world, but if base stations are not deployed, you’re not going to get coverage… So, I think we have to be more creative and getting rural and isolated communities connected.

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