WASHINGTON, January 16, 2020 - Senators raised a grab bag of concerns about broadband mapping, the digital divide, spectrum sharing and online misinformation at a Wednesday hearing featuring top government officials in the communications and technology industries.
Democrat-appointed Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel sparred with her Republican colleague, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly over whether the U.S. was winning the race for deployment of the wireless 5G standard, and what Congress and the FCC should do to expedite 5G.
Rosenworcel said that 5G had only been deployed in urban markets, not rural. She said that the FCC needed to be more active in making mid-band spectrum, such as airwaves in the C-Band from 3.7 GigaHertz (GHz) to 4.2 GHz, to boost higher-speed wireless deployments.
She said dynamic spectrum sharing tools for utilizing the C-Band were ready to deploy and could immediately go to market. She criticized the FCC’s slow pace in making it available.
But O’Rielly pushed back against Rosenworcel’s assertion. He referred to the Citizens Band Radio Service auction of mid-band spectrum at 3.5 GHz, and which is scheduled for June 2020.
Referring to the C-Band, O’Rielly said that there were policy and software complications that delayed the timeline. He also said that 5G deployments – wherever offered on the radio frequency dial – “have the opportunity to revolutionize wireless communication” by supporting 22.3 million jobs and trillions in economic growth.
One general theme animating the senators questioning the witnesses was concern about the digital divide and weaknesses in mapping, which continue to impede broadband deployment.
A broadband map must come first, said Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, or effective deployment cannot begin.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, was concerned about the lack on connectivity in his home state. He questioned the FCC’s ability to deploy broadband in rural communities and said the digital divide between urban and rural American is simply “crazy.”
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., touted a bill he proposed to bring Wi-Fi to rural school buses in an effort to close the homework gap. Rosenworcel agreed that Wi-Fi on school buses would greatly help rural students, as seven in 10 teachers now assign homework that requires internet access.
National Science Foundation Director France Córdova touted the importance of dynamic spectrum sharing of signals spread over large frequencies. Because spectrum is limited and precious, it’s crowded and crucial that none of it be wasted.
She and other witnesses highlighted the ability for Congress and the FCC to authorize tools permitting such dynamic spectrum sharing, supporting Rosenworcel’s emphasis on allowing spectrum sharing in the C-Band.
Córdova also spoke of how the NSF had set up a test bed for dynamic spectrum sharing, underscoring witnesses’ belief in more research on spectrum-sharing.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, asked what could be done to ensure against deepfakes.
Córdova replied that the NSF invests in the research needed to develop unbiased and ethical artificial intelligence. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios agreed that, with regard to AI, R&D should be the government’s primary focus. Then, it could partner with international allies who will also enforce safe principles of AI.
Córdova expressed concern for a workforce prepared for the industries of the future. While we have technologies to deploy, they will not thrive without a skilled workforce, she said.
- U.S. Progress on AI and Quantum Computing Will Best China, Says CTO Michael Kratsios
- Poor Broadband Maps and Lack of a Consolidated Voice Hinder Advocacy for Better Rural Internet
- NTIA Broadband Webinar With Pew, Georgia and Tennessee Officials Discuss Solutions to Digital Divides
- Broadband Roundup: Zuckerberg and EU Discuss Rules for Facebook, Trumps Supports Oracle, Nevada Caucus Anxieties
- Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Agree that Current AI Assessment Tools are Garbage, But Differ on How to Proceed
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Data9 months ago
Pennsylvania Broadband Speeds Worse Than Previously Believed, According to State Report
Intellectual Property7 months ago
In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users
Broadband Data8 months ago
California Report: Income Most Significant Factor in Low Broadband Adoption
FCC10 years ago
Telecom Companies Are Using Fight Interrupting Oscar Ceremony Broadcast To Manipulate Public and FCC, Argue Broadcasters
Broadband Roundup6 months ago
Cable Industry Touts Energy Efficiency, Next Century Highlights Open Access Fiber, Aspen Forum Set
Privacy and Security6 months ago
Comparing Privacy Policies for Wearable Fitness Trackers: Apple, Fitbit, Xiaomi and Under Armour
Open Access2 months ago
UTOPIA Fiber: A Model Open-Access Network
Antitrust6 months ago
Addressing the Impact of Big Data Upon Antitrust is More Complicated Than a Big Tech Breakup