FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Here are five ideas about what the Federal Communications Commission can do, right now, to keep us as a country moving forward:
This crisis is exposing a hard truth about the state of the digital divide in urban America, rural America, and everything in between. Not everyone in this country is connected to modern communications. Not everyone in this country has access to broadband. And not everyone in this country has access to basic phone service. But here’s another truth: Everyone needs communications to have a fair shot at 21st century success. It was true before this crisis. But it’s even clearer now.
Today’s announcement is a sad indication of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s economy and on the livelihood of so many people that find themselves newly out of work. As the coronavirus places new strains on our economy and households across the country, we need to make sure that no one is left behind when it comes to communications. Now is the time to see how we can modernize our Lifeline program and extend its reach to so many in need. This includes the millions of recently unemployed, seniors, and others at risk at this difficult time.
Today’s extension of the period for public comment about net neutrality is welcome. However, when it comes to collecting public feedback on what the FCC’s net neutrality repeal means when it comes to public safety and low-income consumers, an even longer extension would have been appropriate. The American public cares about net neutrality and should have every opportunity to let Washington know how important it is for every part of our civic and commercial lives.
I congratulate Mike O’Rielly on his renomination to serve as FCC Commissioner. Commissioner O’Rielly is incredibly knowledgeable on communications policy matters and has contributed so much to the work of the agency. Moreover, he has been a valuable colleague and friend. I look forward to continuing my work with Mike and wish him well in the confirmation process.
Today’s waiver of the E-Rate and Rural Health Care gift rules is a smart step to assist in coronavirus response. As a result, schools and hospitals will be able to receive enhanced services and equipment from their service provider without running afoul of the Federal Communications Commission’s gift rules. But let’s not confuse generosity for justice, because we need a national plan to ensure that everyone is connected during these unprecedented days.
The Federal Communications Commission should use its power in this emergency to provide schools with Wi-Fi hotspots to loan out to students who lack reliable internet access at home. It has the authority to do so under the Telecommunications Act. This law, now more than two decades old, directed the agency to set up a program to support internet service in schools across the country, through a program known as E-Rate. Today, E-Rate funds broadband for educational purposes in every state.
The coronavirus demands swift and decisive action. We know that more Americans than ever before will need internet access for work, education, and healthcare. We also know that this crisis will expose hard truths about the scope for the digital divide. That is why today’s pledge by a number of broadband providers is a welcome first step. But we will need to do more to keep the country connected. Here are three things that the FCC can do next: First, we need to get to work to connect schoolchildren.
FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel Calls On FCC To Take Aggressive Action To Assist With Coronavirus Response
The coronavirus is already exposing hard truths about the digital divide, but the Federal Communications Commission has the power to help. Nationwide this crisis means that we are going to explore the expansion of telework, telehealth, and tele-education. The FCC should immediately convene the country’s broadband providers to discuss what they are doing right now to provide service for Americans.
You might think it could never happen here in the United States. But think again. To understand how, start with the Communications Act of 1934 — which, though it has been amended and updated several times, is essentially an 86-year-old law that is still the framework for US communications policy today.