House FCC Oversight Hearing

Coverage Type: 

Chairman Ajit Pai and the rest of the Federal Communications Commission took hits from both sides of the aisle in a House Communications Subcommittee oversight hearing Dec 5. Democratic Reps were particularly pointed in their criticisms of the FCC over broadband mapping, internet deregulation, merger approvals, and the funding cap on the Universal Service Fund, among other issues. Full Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) did not appear happy that he had to learn from a press release that the FCC was establishing a new nine-billion-dollar 5G rural subsidy fund, including a billion dollars for precision agriculture. He said it sounded good, but he had a lot of questions, including where the $9 billion is coming from and about the fact that there are still not accurate maps to show where broadband is and isn't. "We expect to have a little more notice and a little more communication on some of these big announcements," he said, adding that that might have addressed some of the questions the FCC would be getting at the hearing. Ranking Member Walden also did not appreciate not receiving a heads up from Chairman Pai on his proposal to repeal the T-Band spectrum auction and retain it for public safety, a proposal Chairman Walden floated at the last FCC oversight hearing. Ranking Member Walden said he had not been taken up on his outreach on that offer, "so I must say I find it interesting that just last week the chairman called on Congress to repeal the T-Band auction mandate, which was not coordinated or discussed with me and my staff despite our efforts to find a solution."

In a letter from Chairman Pai to House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (PA) that was shared during the hearing, Chairman Pai said that the FCC's Enforcement Bureau investigation into carriers' selling of user's location data should be wrapped up by the end of Jan. At the hearing, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed her frustration with the pace of the investigation and with what she said was the Chairman's refusal to share documents related to the investigation. Commissioner Rosenworcel said in her testimony that the FCC's approval of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger was essentially a back-room deal. She said the FCC should have to make public the initial draft of the item so Congress, the courts and the public can see what changed, and why.

FCC Takes Some Lumps at House Oversight Hearing (B&C) Hearing Landing Page Chairman Pai Testimony to House Energy & Commerce Committee O'Rielly Statement Before House Subcmte on Communications & Technology Cmr Rosenworcel Testimony Before House Energy and Commerce Committee Commissioner Starks Testimony to House Energy & Commerce Committee Commissioner Carr Testimony to House Energy and Commerce Committee Rosenworcel: T-Mobile-Sprint Deal Approval Got Political Rewrite (B&C) Pai: FCC to Wrap Up Location Data Investigation by January (Multichannel News) Ajit Pai Says FCC's Investigation into Sale of Phone Location Data Nearly Complete (Vice)