FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
I want to propose that we use this opportunity to reaffirm what is fundamental: our commitment to a global and open internet for all. In the age of the always-on internet, the idea of suddenly flicking connectivity off like a switch sounds dystopian. But for so many people in so many places this is becoming a reality. 21 countries shut down the internet 122 times in 2019 alone. That means there were more internet shutdowns in 2019 than ever before. These shutdowns are not just the instruments of authoritarian regimes, they have been used by democracies trying to tackle problems, too.
For anyone who is pregnant, having a hospital delivery room nearby means knowing that when the baby arrives medical assistance will be close at hand. But for too many of those in rural America, this comfort is often no longer available—and it is putting both women and babies at risk. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation with an increasing rate of maternal mortality and this problem hits women of color especially hard. The Federal Communications Commission has a long history of working to promote access to telehealth in rural communities.
On Nov 22 the Federal Communications Commission will vote to adopt a rule ensuring that our universal service funds—which provide billions annually to support broadband deployment in rural communities—are not used to purchase insecure network equipment. We also will kick off a rulemaking to identify where this equipment is in networks today and how to help carriers serving rural America replace it. I think with a few changes we can better protect the integrity of our networks and offer more certainty and predictability for carriers.
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger will end a golden age in wireless that helped bring to market lower prices and more innovative services. It will mean an end to the competitive rivalry that reduced prices by 28% during the last decade. Similarly, the pressure to support unlimited data plans and free international roaming will fade. Offers to pay early termination fees to help families switch to plans that fit their lives will fall by the wayside.
I’m going to say a word or concept—something about wireless—and I’m going to ask you to raise your hands—is it overrated or underrated? And in return, I’ll share my two cents about it, too.
5G -- underrated Mid-band spectrum -- underrated World Radiocommunication Conference -- overrated Network Virtualization -- Very underrated Unlicensed Spectrum -- underrated
We’ve all seen what happens when markets become more concentrated after a merger like this one. In the airline industry, it brought us baggage fees and smaller seats. In the pharmaceutical industry, it led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications. There’s no reason to think this time will be different. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will reduce competition, raise prices, lower quality, and slow innovation.
On Oct 16, as a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, I voted to block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, the country’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers. But I am only one of five votes at the agency, and a majority of my colleagues have already voiced their support for this transaction. On top of that, the Department of Justice recently reached an agreement with the carriers, giving them a green light to combine. The largest wireless merger in history is now headed toward approval.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: "Today’s decision is a victory for consumers, broadband deployment, and the free and open Internet. The court affirmed the FCC’s decision to repeal 1930s utility-style regulation of the Internet imposed by the prior Administration. The court also upheld our robust transparency rule so that consumers can be fully informed about their online options. Since we adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, consumers have seen 40% faster speeds and millions more Americans have gained access to the Internet.
It’s September and the new school year is underway. Across the country, students are filing into their new classrooms and meeting their new teachers. They are also getting ready for something familiar in education — and that’s homework. What is new about homework, however, is that it now requires internet service. Today, seven in 10 teachers assign homework that requires online access. But data from the Federal Communications Commission, where I work, consistently shows that one in three households does not subscribe to broadband. Where those numbers overlap is the homework gap.
A problem could lead to the undercounting of the population of the United States, which would affect how billions in federal funds are distributed. It involves broadband. For the first time in our history, the US census will prioritize collecting responses online. In practice, this means that most households will get a letter in the mail directing them to fill out a form on a website. For households that do not respond, letters with paper forms may follow, and a census taker could eventually be sent to collect the data in person.