Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.
The 116th Congress is underway. In the background of a partial government shutdown, lawmakers are getting their committee assignments. At Benton, we keep a close eye on two key Congressional panels because of their jurisdiction over many telecommunications issues and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission: 1) the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and 2) the Senate Commerce Committee. Here's a look at some key telecom policymakers -- and their priorities -- in the 116th Congress.
On Tuesday, April 17, the House Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing – entitled “From Core to Edge: Perspective on Internet Prioritization” – to better understanding of how network operators manage data flows over the Internet and how data is prioritized from the network core to the edge.
While the proposal I made to restore net neutrality will certainly garner the most attention, the Federal Communications Commission's October agenda features many other actions to promote digital equity and support broadband-powered innovation:
Advancing Digital Equity for Black Communities
One year after becoming law, the hearing will focus on the implementation and oversight of the CHIPS and Science Act by the Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation. The hearing will highlight the rollout of investments to boost the United States’ innovation, research and competitiveness through domestic semiconductor manufacturing incentives, regional innovation programs and other science programs established under the law.
The Federal Communications Commission's Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination will host the latest in a series of listening sessions to gain additional information and understanding from affected communities, state, local, and Tribal governments, public interest advocates, and providers about challenges, barriers and experiences in ensuring all people of the United States benefit from equal access to broadband. The purpose of the listening session is to continue the FCC's outreach in support of its ongoing efforts to promote equal access to broadband for everyone.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau will host a workshop on the environmental compliance and historic preservation review process required for the construction of communications facilities supporting FCC licensed services. The workshop will include information relevant to the construction of new communications towers and the collocation of communications equipment on existing towers and other structures, including requirements for Antenna Structure Registration.
After years of market-based pricing for broadband, state and federal officials are considering price controls to ensure affordability. One might think that broadband is already affordable given that the industry grew faster than the US economy for 15 of the past 16 years. But federal officials are pressing states to introduce price controls for low-cost broadband and perhaps broadband for the middle class. Middle-class subsidies and price benchmarking are also being contemplated.