We’ve gathered to discuss 5G security, of course, but I think it’s important to say up front that we can’t let these challenges hold back our efforts to unlock the possibilities of 5G itself. Over the past few years, the Federal Communications Commission has aggressively executed what we call our 5G FAST plan. This strategy for promoting 5G innovation and investment features three key parts: freeing up commercial spectrum, promoting the installation of wireless infrastructure, and encouraging fiber deployment.
From the outset of the pandemic, it was clear that we needed to do everything we could to connect patients with their health care providers. So back in March, the Federal Communications Commission immediately made an additional $42 million available through our Rural Health Care Program. We also waived socalled “gift rules” so that participants in the Rural Health Care Program could solicit and accept better services or additional equipment for telemedicine from their broadband providers. And thanks to Congress, we were able to do much, much more.
Since my first day in this job, I’ve said that closing the digital divide was my top priority. And as this audience knows all too well, nowhere is that divide more pronounced than on Tribal lands. One new policy I’m particularly excited about is giving Tribes priority access to spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band.
Remarks Of Chairman Pai At The 10th Anniversary Celebration Of The Tower Providers And Infrastructure Association
Thank you to Chairman Gupta, Director General Dua, and everybody at the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) for inviting me to be with you tonight. For all the progress that’s been made, you understand that there is still so much more to achieve for the communication infrastructure sector in India. Why else would you be rolling out a new white paper at your 10th anniversary celebration? You’ve already got your eye on 5G and other new technologies being introduced right now and in the near future.
The Federal Communications Commission’s top priority must be connecting all Americans to modern high-speed communications networks. Solving this problem was always a moral imperative, and COVID-19 has raised the stakes.
Inclusion is at the foundation of communications policy in this country. The Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 both rest on the notion that advanced communications networks should be universally available and affordable. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that there is still more to be done to adapt these policy principles to the internet age. In just two decades, having the internet at home has gone from being a toy for hobbyists to an indispensable tool for commerce, education, and connectedness.
I’ve been asked to speak briefly about our experiences dealing with the pandemic in the United States, and some of the lessons we might be able to apply to unexpected events in the future. When it comes to America’s communications networks, the top headline is that they have performed extremely well during the COVID-19 pandemic. As one would expect, we saw significant increases in voice and Internet traffic as our lives and the economy moved online due to the pandemic. Our wired and wireless networks handled this surge without any significant service disruptions or declines.
The Benton perspective is this: Everyone in America should be able to use High-Performance Broadband, by which I mean broadband connections to the home that are robust and future-proof. Broadband competition is more important than ever because—in our current crises and beyond—America has fast-forwarded into its broadband future. Yet, New York, like the nation, has too little competition in fixed broadband to ensure that all people have the advantage of competitive pricing, quality, customer service, and innovation.
University of Virginia Professor Christopher Ali spoke about rural broadband with the Reimagine New York Commission. The rural-urban digital divide is primarily one of infrastructure. At least 22.3% of rural Americans, or 15.8 million people, lack access to broadband infrastructure and are therefore cut off from the internet.
The First Amendment protects us from limits on speech imposed by the government—not private actors—and we should all reject demands, in the name of the First Amendment, for private actors to curate or publish speech in a certain way. I shudder to think of a day in which the Fairness Doctrine could be reincarnated by some other name, especially at the ironic behest of so-called speech “defenders.” Further, like it or not, the First Amendment’s protections apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.