The Coalition for Local Internet Choice and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors asked for my view of the Federal Communications Commission’s pending order, proposing to cap the fees that state and local governments may charge for small-cell attachments. According to the FCC’s draft order, these price‐caps will save the industry $2 billion in costs to operate in metropolitan areas—which will translate into $2.5 billion in new wireless investment, primarily in rural areas. Here are my concerns:
[Speech] On of the two historic accomplishments of the current Federal Communications Commission is that it is the first FCC to interpret its statutory mandate to say it doesn’t have much legal authority or policy rights to regulate broadcasters, telephone companies, cable companies, or wireless companies. Instead, its principal regulatory mandate is to regulate another set of enterprises: local governments.
The Senate infrastructure bill gave the primary responsibility of universal broadband deployment and adoption to the states, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) providing oversight. To help achieve the Senate’s goals, the FCC should:
Congress has done a lot more than just set goals for access to broadband services—it finally provided the funding to do so. Most recently, the Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which, if passed by the House, would provide another $65 billion in funding. But to understand what the Senate both did and did not do in the new infrastructure package, we cannot simply focus on spending levels.
Biden’s FCC must attend to cybersecurity, 5G development, and data-gathering issues that Trump’s FCC ignored
Three institutional and strategic problems that President Joe Biden’s Federal Communications Commission will have to resolve:
For some time, many experts have been warning that the universal service funding system is in a death spiral, as the base on which the fees are assessed—generally a telecom company’s interstate and international end-user revenues—is shrinking. The new Federal Communications Commission is forced to consider a rising assessment on a shrinking revenue base to address an increasing demand, with Ajit Pai’s FCC having not done any of the analytic, political, or legal work necessary to make adjustments. Pai was willing to spend billions to address the needs of rural communities lacking broadband.
The next administration should launch a concerted broadband data-collection and analysis effort to support smart, timely, and informed decision-making by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies that work on broadband, such as the Rural Utilities Service. Specifically, the FCC should collect (or work with others to collect) comprehensive data on the following eight indicators:
The next administration should create a plan for a public, online platform to connect teachers with college students and recent graduates to serve as tutors for K-12 students. One-on-one tutoring is a proven intervention that improves children’s educational competencies and increases students’ self-confidence. Along with supporting students, this platform could provide needed employment for young adults and enable teachers and students together to produce improved educational outcomes.
This proposal outlines a series of actions to introduce a second monthly meeting of the five commissioners who comprise the Federal Communications Commission. During the additional meeting, FCC staff should present on major items that might be brought before the Commission for a vote in the next several months. This forward-looking monthly meeting gives the public information needed to provide meaningful input to the Commission prior to its decision-making. The meeting would also improve the Commissioners’ own ability to respond to policy recommendations.
At the Federal Communications Commission’s request, nearly 800 communications companies and trade groups signed the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge. The signatories agreed not to terminate service to any residential or small business customer, and to waive any late fees incurred, due to economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.