As the tenure of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his deregulatory Republican majority winds down, DC policy watchers are looking for action on some big issues yet to be resolved one way or the other.
NCTA-the Internet & Television Association President Michael Powell said that when it comes to universal broadband service, it is always hard when you get to the last portion of the population still on the other side of digital opportunity, so government needs to step up funding, including perhaps making broadband service part of the social safety net, like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The 5G Fund Supporters -- which includes the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, Rainbow-PUSH and the NAACP -- asked the Federal Communications Commission to clarify how it plans to ensure that 1) the upcoming 5G mobile broadband subsidy program will accommodate needy areas other than rural, and better ensure 2) that diverse contractors have a chance at the money.
The National Lifeline Association and Assist Wireless have asked a federal court to stay the Dec. 1 trigger for the Federal Communications Commission's increase of the mobile broadband minimum service standard in the Lifeline subsidy program from 3 GB to 4.5 GB. The groups first petitioned the FCC for a stay, but that was denied. The petitioners told the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that absent the emergency stay, they would suffer irreparable harm.
If Democrats win a majority of Senate seats, it would give regulatory-minded congressional Democrats the ability to put an end to the legal wrangling over a neutral internet, impose tougher new privacy laws or pass their version of social media regulation. With Republicans holding onto the Senate, there would be no legislation reclassifying internet access as a Title I telecommunications service subject to mandatory access and potentially rate regulation.
Democrats on the Federal Communications Commission are taking issue with Chairman Ajit Pai's announcement that the agency would clarify edge providers' Section 230 immunity from civil liability over third-party content, as the White House has asked.