FCC Democratic Commissioners Set to Move on Net Neutrality, Broadband Subsidies
January 7, 2021
- Net Neutrality: A Democratic Federal Communications Commission will likely first move to reclassify broadband as a service under Title II of the Communications Act. That will allow it to restore rules requiring Internet service providers to treat all internet traffic equally, and take other actions to regulate broadband providers’ business practices amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Covid-19/Broadband: Democratic commissioners are also likely to expand broadband aid, including through the E-Rate program, which pays for high-speed internet connections to schools and libraries. The agency will likely move quickly to allow E-Rate funding to be used to subsidize Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops, and other connected devices to assist with remote learning. Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate Gigi Sohn said the agency, along with congressional Democrats, will prioritize ensuring that underserved and unserved communities have access to broadband. “I think we have an opportunity to move forward faster and close the digital divide in the next four years,” Sohn said. “I think that is doable.”
- Filling the Vacancy/Senate Action: The Senate is likely to move fast to confirm a third Democratic commissioner, Sohn said. “That’s the number one thing a Democratically controlled Senate can and will do,” Sohn said. “It will no longer be 2-2, which means they can get a lot done.”
FCC Democrats Set to Move on Net Neutrality, Broadband Subsidies