Report on past event
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.
A sizable disconnect appears to exist between the technology Americans are using and depending on in their daily lives and the knowledge base of people with the power and responsibility to decide its future and regulation.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Tim Cook of Apple all dodged lawmakers’ most pointed questions, or professed their ignorance. The result was a hearing that, at times, felt less like a reckoning than an attempted gaslighting — a group of savvy executives trying to convince lawmakers that the evidence that their yearslong antitrust investigation had dug up wasn’t really evidence of anything. The performance wasn’t particularly convincing.
The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook -- four tech giants worth nearly $5 trillion combined -- faced withering questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike for the tactics and market dominance that had made their enterprises successful. For more than five hours, the 15 members of an antitrust panel in the House lobbed questions and repeatedly interrupted and talked over Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of
Wireless infrastructure deployment, particularly for small cell or distributed antenna systems, promise smart city innovation abilities. But this rollout is likely to be stymied until resolution of disputes between industry and municipalities. Local officials are upset that federal intervention – by Congress and by the Federal Communications Commission – is hampering their ability to govern their own rights-of-way.
All five Federal Communications Commissioners testified at a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing. Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said the hearing was an opportunity for Commissioners to discuss what more can be done to expand broadband access and digital opportunity for all Americans.
FCC Chairman Pai Discusses C-Band, the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, and Bad Broadband Maps at Appropriations Hearing
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government held the hearing "Oversight of FCC Spectrum Auctions Program" in which Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai testified. Leading the hearing was Subcommittee Chairman John Kennedy (R-LA), one of the harshest critics of the FCC decision to give satellite companies close to $10 billion in incentive payments to exit the C-Band spectrum by 2021 and 2023 instead of the 2025 deadline the FCC set.
Democratic congressional staffers are signaling fresh optimism that some money for broadband will make it into another coronavirus relief package long mulled on Capitol Hill. Republicans are “proceeding politically a little more cautiously right now” in deference to GOP leadership, but “we know privately that there are Republicans that would be very supportive of spending more money on E-Rate or Lifeline or Rural Healthcare,” said Joey Wender, senior policy adviser to Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).
Despite private-sector broadband investment exceeding $70 billion per year since 2013, the digital divide remains. Over 20 million households have access to, but are not connected via, a fixed broadband connection. This is a classic market failure. Without some government intervention, there will be an under-consumption of broadband. But what kind of intervention is called for?
Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and Rep. Suzan DelBenne (D-WA) agreed that the US government needs to help expand internet access to more households as the coronavirus pandemic exposes significant gaps in coverage. Commissioner O'Rielly said that while many classrooms, doctor’s offices and workplaces have moved online, about 20 million Americans don’t have broadband. “COVID-19 didn't bring this issue upon us, but it's made it more prominent.” He said that lack of equipment and affordability are the main obstacles for households who aren't able to log on.