WASHINGTON, June 21, 2017 — Cuts in the Federal Communications Commission budget won’t hinder the agency’s ability to provide services because the agency is entirely funded by fees, Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told senators on Tuesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing to examine the Commission’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request.
“[W]e have compiled a tightly-crafted, disciplined budget request of $322,035,000—or 5.2 percent below the prior fiscal year’s undirected spending level of $339,844,000,” Pai said, adding that the cuts in the FCC’s budget were in line with the goals set by the White House Office of Management and Budget targeting a 5 percent reduction across the board in all non-defense spending.
Pai noted that while the FCC is an entirely fee-funded agency, taxpayers still pay those fees, whether in individual licenses or in costs passed down to consumers by larger companies that do business with the Commission.
“As a result, I have always believed that it is important for the Commission to be fiscally responsible and avoid unnecessary spending,” Pai said. “Moreover, I firmly believe that if the FCC refrains from regulatory overreach, we will realize additional cost savings as well as more economic growth—results that benefit everyone.”
Pai also added that the FCC’s ongoing auctions will allow the agency to disburse roughly $2 billion through the Connect America Fund and another $4.53 billion through the Mobility Fund Phase II program, and that the FCC’s Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force has developed a “solid plan” for those programs, which are meant to bring 4G LTE wireless coverage to parts of the country where high speed mobile broadband is not currently available.
Despite Pai’s compliance with the OMB directive for a 5 percent reduction in the FCC’s budget, Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly suggested that more money needed to be spent on Universal Service Fund programs, since a $9 billion program is currently overseen by a staff of 12.
O’Rielly added that while there are currently problems within the Universal Service Administrative Company, the quasi-private company the FCC uses to oversee its USF programs. Those problems, he said, hinder its ability to disburse funds to help lower-income Americans receive phone and internet service.
When questioned on the decision by President Trump to sign a resolution nullifying the FCC’s broadband privacy rules that were promulgated under former Democrat FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Pai said that the decision to reclassify broadband service under common carrier regulations stripped the Federal Trade Commission of its previous authority to regulate consumer privacy, but that he is committed to working with FTC Chair Maureen Olhausen “to make sure we have a consistent framework that protects consumers whenever they go online.”
But Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn replied that she is concerned that there is currently no “cop on the beat when it comes to broadband internet access,” and that there is no one monitoring “balls and strikes” when it comes to consumer privacy.
“I’m worried as a customer, and I’m worried for the millions of others,” she said.
- Africa’s Informal Sector Marred by Small Manufacturing Base and Low Technology Adoption, Brookings Experts Say
- Wireless Internet Providers Excited About Multiple Spectrum Sharing Opportunities, Including FCC Priority Access
- FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Gives the Broadband Scoreboard at SHLB: FCC Maps-0, Libraries-1
- Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Tackles Question of Public Versus Private Auction of C-Band Spectrum
- FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr Touts Work on Enhancing Telehealth and Flexible Spectrum
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Data4 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
Broadband Data5 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Intellectual Property3 months ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Privacy and Security1 month ago
Comparing Privacy Policies for Wearable Fitness Trackers: Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Under Armour
Antitrust1 month ago
Addressing the Impact of Big Data Upon Antitrust is More Complicated Than a Big Tech Breakup
Expert Opinion3 months ago
Geoff Mulligan: A ‘Dumb’ Way to Build Smart Cities
Antitrust1 month ago
Broadband Roundup: Everyone (Almost) Gangs Up on Google, Muni Broadband Fact Sheet, SHLB Anchornet Conference
Broadband Roundup2 months ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set