FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
In a joint letter, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Brandon Presley have written to NARUC Commissioners around the US to raise awareness of the federal Lifeline program, which helps eligible low-income consumers access affordable broadband and phone services. Many Americans may be newly unemployed or face other circumstances that make them eligible for Lifeline for the first time. Yet, they may also be unaware either of their eligibility or how to apply for the program.
Two of the Federal Communications Commission’s top priorities are closing the digital divide in rural America and advancing United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. The commitments made today by T-Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives.
Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction. The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law. When the FCC confronts disputed issues like these, the Communications Act does not allow it to approve a transaction. Instead, the law requires the FCC to designate the transaction for a hearing in order to get to the bottom of those disputed issues.
Chairman Pai: "The report maintains the same benchmark speed for fixed broadband service previously adopted by the Commission, which we earlier proposed to retain: 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload. The report also concludes that mobile broadband service is not a full substitute for fixed service. Instead, it notes there are differences between the two technologies, including clear variations in consumer preferences and demands.
Much has been said and written over the course of the last week about the plan to restore Internet freedom. But much of the discussion has brought more heat than light. I’d like to cut through the hysteria and hot air and speak with you in plain terms about the plan. First, I’ll explain what it will do. Second, I’ll discuss why I’m advancing it. And third, I’ll respond to the main criticisms that have been leveled against it.
Rounding out our December meeting will be two matters that were previewed yesterday.
First, the Federal Communications Commission will consider an order that would restore Internet freedom and return to the bipartisan, light-touch framework that helped America's Internet economy become the envy of the world. And unlike the previous Administration, which pushed through its Internet regulations without letting the public see what was being proposed, anyone can read my plan. It's on the Commission's website —more than three weeks before our scheduled vote.
Chairman Pai Circulates Draft Order To Restore Internet Freedom And Eliminate Heavy-Handed Internet Regulations
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai released the following statement on his draft Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which was circulated to his fellow Commissioners Nov 21 and will be voted on at the FCC’s Open Meeting on December 14:
[Commentary] For over four decades, the Federal Communications Commission has restricted the ability of broadcast media outlets to also own newspapers, and vice versa, in the same market, under what is known as the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule. This rule was established in 1975 with the stated purpose of preserving and promoting a diversity of viewpoints. Arguably, it made sense at the time. But with the internet now dominating the news landscape, the rule is no longer needed, and may actually be undermining the diversity of viewpoints it was intended to foster.
When it comes our August meeting’s main attraction, repurposing C-band spectrum for 5G, we feel the need — the need for speed. I circulated final draft procedures for a C-band auction to be held on Dec 8, 2020, and we will vote on them at our August meeting. They spell out the many details of the auction — competitive bidding procedures, application requirements, and deadlines governing participation in Auction 107. To spur the deployment of ultra-fast, world-leading 5G networks, we need to make C-band spectrum (among other spectrum bands) available as quickly as possible.
I congratulate Bloosurf for being the first company to satisfy its buildout requirements with funds from our recent Connect America Fund Phase II auction, making fixed broadband available to more than 5,000 rural homes and businesses in Maryland and Delaware. I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that the funds provided through the Connect America Fund Phase II auction are having across the nation—including in Delaware itself, where I visited with Bloosurf in rural Seaford in early 2019.