FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks
Since day one as a Federal Communications Commissioner, I have been speaking up and speaking out to advance diversity in broadcast media. I am also focused more broadly on what we as public servants should be doing to achieve the mandate in the Communications Act of making communications available to all Americans. We must do better in fulfilling the FCC's obligation to promote ownership by women and people of color.
Remarks of FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks to Next Century Cities Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy 2020
In 2020 and beyond, my principal focus will be ensuring that our communications networks and technologies support security, privacy, and our democratic values. Internet inequality is a persistent problem that is only growing in urgency. Low-income people, people of color, and people in rural areas either aren’t getting online or are making great sacrifices to get connected. For example, according to a Pew Research study, only 45 percent of adults with incomes under $30,000 have broadband at home. Solving this problem is a moral imperative.
I want to first begin by saying congratulations to Reps Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Bryan Steil (R-WI) for launching the Future of Work Caucus. At the Federal Communications Commission, my number one priority is to ensure that all Americans are connected to affordable and reliable broadband. And I have to tell you, folks, we're just not there yet when it comes to ensuring that everyone is connected to broadband in this country. I know I only have a few minutes to chat with you all today so let me just close by saying that an automation tsunami is coming.
In 2020 and beyond, my principal focus will be ensuring that our communications networks and technologies support security, privacy, and our democratic values. I am optimistic that technological developments, especially 5G standards, will support our efforts to improve network and data security.
Commissioner Starks offered a four-point plan to make FCC support for expanding rural broadband more effective: 1) funding rural broadband with accurate and actionable maps and data; 2) advancing more affordable internet connections; 3) incentivizing futureproof connections; and 4) investing in responsible auction winners.
As communications networks have become more ubiquitous, and more deeply imbedded in every aspect of our society, old silos are breaking down. We can no longer think of our country’s economic success, our security, and our geo-political relations as distinct issues. The networks that intertwine people tie these issues together, and I’m encouraged that we’re increasingly thinking about them holistically. With that theme in mind, I want to highlight three areas where we’re still working to make our policies fit the 5G era: communications infrastructure, security, and democratic engagement.
On June 27, 2019, I convened a workshop at the Federal Communications Commission to consider security threats that stem from the presence of certain Chinese communications equipment in US networks and from the related services these companies provide. This workshop gathered the views of many stakeholders, particularly in the wireless communications ecosystem, including carriers, trade associations, manufacturers, and academics.
Thank you to the Broadband Communities team for organizing a great event and inviting me here today to discuss an issue that I care so deeply about which is getting high-speed, affordable broadband to every person across this country.
Thank you to the US Chamber of Commerce and to the Competitive Carriers Association for organizing this gathering today. This gathering represents the core of the “all of government” approach to address 5G security concerns.
When you visit today’s libraries, they are a long ways from the Dewey decimal system. I have observed at least four ways that libraries today are serving Americans in exciting new ways as 21st Century Community Tech Hubs, and are “meeting people where they are.” First, libraries are providing internet access to Americans who otherwise lack it—they are lending their Wi-Fi signals and, in some cases, are lending connectivity itself. Lending hot spots provides a connection when the internet is available in neighborhoods, but not at an affordable rate.