May 12, 2020 — The Federal Communication Commission’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been successful, Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a Federal Communications Bar Association teleconference Monday.
The conference, hosted by FCBA President-elect Natalie Roisman and moderated by FCBA President Josh Turner, discussed the myriad changes in the broadband landscape since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus has spurred organizations across the world to provide work-from-home options for employees, and Carr said that the transition found existing U.S. infrastructure prepared.
“What we’re saying very consistently is this was a stress test of the internet, and in the U.S., it performed very well,” he said.
Carr attributed the ease of the U.S.’s broadband landscape transition in part to increased high-speed fiber.
“Last year on the wired side, there was something like 400,000 new miles of high-speed wire that went into the internet,” he said. “That’s enough to circle the globe about 18 times.”
When asked how the FCC was continuing to invest in next-gen broadband technology, Carr said that the FCC was taking several approaches.
By freeing up the most high-band spectrum of any country in the world, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to roll out new 5G technologies, Carr said.
“I’m looking forward to some more progress on a number of those bands in the mid-band spectrum,” he added.
Carr claimed that the FCC could not have laid the groundwork for 5G without key moves in advance.
“We cut a lot of red tape early on,” he said. “That’s what helped accelerate a lot of these 5G builds.”
However, the agency’s attempts to develop broadband infrastructure have not been without turbulence. Last week, a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing saw military officials incensed over the FCCs approval of satellite broadband company Ligado’s proposed plan to roll out a 5G service that critics – into the chief information officer of the Pentagon – say could interfere with military GPS.
A spokesman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the interference concerns “baseless fear-mongering.”
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