WASHINGTON, March 3, 2009 – President Obama’s long-awaited nomination of Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was greeted with an enthusiastic reaction from groups representing every corner of the telecommunications community.
Genachowski has long been heir-apparent to former chairman Kevin Martin since January 13, when the media reported that then-President-elect Obama would nominate Genachowski to replace Martin.
Martin announced his resignation on Thursday, January 15, and his last day was January 20.
Genachowski, currently a venture capitalist and advisor to LaunchBox Digital, a Washington, D.C.-based technology incubator, attended Harvard Law School with Obama and worked on his campaign as a technology policy advisor. He also served as an advisor to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.
Acting FCC chairman Michael Copps praised Genachowski: “Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country – and the Commission,” Copps said. “I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest.”
Copps’ Democratic colleague Jonathan Adelstein called Genechowski “the right person at the right time for the job.”
Adelstein said the President’s nominee has “a strong strategic vision, striking talents, wealth of experience inside and outside of the Commission, and practical understanding of technology,” and is illustrative of Obama’s commitment to the “transformational power of communications technology and innovation.”
Republican commissioner Robert McDowell was slightly more restrained in welcoming Genechowski. In his written statement, McDowell said he looked forward to working with Genachowski, who he said “will bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government but also in the private sector.”
Industry professionals were pleased with the president’s choice. Federal Communications Bar Association president and Sidley Austin partner Mark Schneider (who said he was not speaking on behalf of the FCBA or his firm) said Genachowski is “in many ways immensely qualified for the position.”
Schneider said Genachowski brings to the FCC many years of experience in both the public and private sectors, particularly with regard to internet and broadband technology. “Based on my work with him and my knowledge of him, I’m optimistic about his abilities to lead the agency at this important time,” he said.
National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said he was looking forward to working with Genachowski. He said he “combines the policy savvy and real-world experience that will be necessary to confront both the challenges and opportunities presented at a time of incredible change sweeping the media, communications and technology marketplace.”
Steve Largent, president of CTIA – The Wireless Association, said the chairman-designate “has an appreciation for the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that are hallmarks of the wireless industry,” and called Genachowski “well qualified to assume leadership at the Commission.”
Public interest advocates were also pleased with Obama’s selection. Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver called him “an excellent choice” who has shown “a deep understanding of the central role of technology in shaping our 21st- Century economy and democracy.”
Genachowski’s long tenure in the industry was again invoked as a positive by Sprint Nextel Corp spokesman John Taylor. Taylor said Genachowski would bring “experience, deep policy understanding and knowledge of the regulatory process to the Commission,” and Sprint Nextel looks forward to working with him on issues including “restoring competition to the failed special access markets that are stifling broadband deployment in our country.”
And Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, was exuberant in her praise for the incoming chairman: “I have known Julius for over 15 years, both as a public servant and as a savvy and progressive businessman,” she said.
Sohn said she believes Genachowski “will work to ensure that the FCC meets its legal obligation to protect the ‘public interest, convenience and necessity,’ and will develop a principled, strategic policy agenda that promotes openness, free speech, competition, innovation, access, economic growth and consumer welfare.”
After years of frustration under Martin, who was often criticized by stakeholders on all sides for running the agency in an unusually heavy-handed manner, Sohn was confident in Genachowski’s ability to continue the push for openness begun by acting chairman Copps:
“I am certain that he will seek to restore public confidence in an agency that has had a long history of opaqueness, industry capture, and a lack of data-driven policymaking.”
Even those on the other side of the aisle are feeling optimistic about Genachowski’s potential. Wilkinson Barker Knauer attorney Bryan Tramont, called him an “exciting choice.” to head the agency. Tramont, who served as FCC chief of staff under former chairman Michael Powell was enthusiastic about Genachowski’s nomination: “His depth of experience inside the FCC and respect for the institution will be extremely valuable to the decision-making process.”
And former Republican commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth called Genachowski “a great choice” to succeed Martin — who was once one of Furchtgott-Roth’s legal advisers. “[Genachowski] will be a great asset to the FCC.”
Broadband Breakfast Club
March Meeting: Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It?
BroadbandCensus.com presents the March meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club at Old Ebbitt Grill on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at 8 a.m. Because of the Commerce Department/Agriculture Department/FCC Public Meeting on broadband stimulus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Broadband Breakfast Club will adjourn at 9:30 a.m.
- NEW! – James Baller, President of Baller Herbst Law Group, will provide a brief summary of the progress of the U.S. Broadband Coalition
- Art Brodsky, Communication Director, Public Knowledge
- Kathleen Ham, Vice President, Federal Regulatory, T-Mobile USA
- Brent Olson, Assistant Vice President, Public Policy, AT&T
- Emmett O’Keefe, Director, Federal Public Policy, Amazon.com
- Scott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute
Webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club Produced in Partnership with:
FCC Encouraged to Limit Data Collection on Affordable Connectivity Program, Others Want More
One trade group warns about providers leaving the program if data collection too onerous.
WASHINGTON, August 9, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is being warned not to overly burden internet service providers with its Congress-mandated order to collect pricing and subscription rates data from participants in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the FCC is required by November 15 to adopt rules to collect annual data relating to the price and subscription rates of each internet service offering by a provider participating in the broadband subsidy program, which offers up to $30 per month for low-income households (up to $75 per month on tribal lands) and a one-time $100 off a device.
But a number of submissions are warning the FCC against rules that require any additional data collection efforts beyond the scope of the law so as not to unduly burden providers and, at least one other trade group said, push providers away from participating in the program.
Telecommunications company Lumen, for example, recommended the commission limit the scope of the annual reporting to monthly pricing and to exempt “excessively granular” requirements, such as promotional rates, grandfathered plans, or subscriber-level data, which the commission is proposing to collect.
Communications companies and industry groups want to limit data collection
T-Mobile said in its submission that Congress told the FCC to rely on the broadband consumer labels, which are due this November, for pricing. The commission asked for comment on the interpretation of the IIJA requiring a reliance on price information displayed on the consumer labels.
For subscription information, T-Mobile urges the commission to look at data collection from the Universal Service Administrative Company – which administers high-cost broadband programs for the Universal Service Fund – to avoid “adopting a largely redundant collection that would impose additional burdens” on all parties.
“The IIJA leaves the Commission no discretion to collect any additional price information, and the statute does not require collection of data on other service plan and network characteristics,” such as speed and latency and data allowances, the submission said.
“Collection of this additional data would create additional burdens and is unnecessary,” the submission added.
Similar limitations were also proposed by telecom Starry Inc., which pushed for privacy protection by collecting data at a higher level (such as the state) and working with information collected in other transparency efforts, such as the consumer labels.
Industry association IMCOMPAS, which represents internet and competitive communications networks, told the FCC in a submission that data collection should be limited to the state level to protect consumer privacy and proprietary information of the providers; streamline other data collection, including the consumer labels; and provide instruction on how to providers to better understand the data collection rules.
Concurring with this position is the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which said data collection must be simple and should not go to a level of detail that goes beyond what the IIJA calls for. The trade group, which represents small providers, said such data collection beyond that required in the law could burden companies with small teams.
The included data, WISPA said, should be an annual aggregate of items including broadband plans subscribed to by ACP customers, number of subscribers for each plan, and pricing minus promotional rates, taxes, discounts or pricing breakdowns for bundled services. Any additional onerous collection could see providers leave the program, it added.
Industry groups US Telecom and NCTA – Internet and Television Association similarly urged a simple annual report that captured undiscounted monthly pricing of each broadband service offering and the number of customers subscribed. The Competitive Carriers Association and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association also recommended a limited data collection approach.
ACA Connects, a trade group representing small and medium-sized independent operators, said the FCC should direct providers to report numbers of ACP households “that are applying their benefit to each speed tier along with the standard price of each tier on a state-by-state basis” – rather than the FCC-proposed continuous collection of subscriber-level data via the National Lifeline Accountability Database, it said, adding the commission should be mindful of the time it takes for completion, as smaller providers have limited resources.
Others pushing for subscriber-level, more data
The cities of New York and Seattle, in their submissions, said the FCC should collect subscriber-level information to assess different service adoption rates on different plans over time – publishing categories based on price, plan and performance by the zip code. It added it is not seeking information about the households itself, and said this would not be a privacy concern as others have pointed out.
Similarly, the Connecticut Office of State Broadband said the commission should go beyond the IIJA requirements by mandating information including performance of the plans and whether a device is offered.
For the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, data collection on the ACP should include data beyond what’s included in the consumer labels, and should include other items such as installation, equipment, service, miscellaneous, data and usage fees, and state and local taxes.
In a joint submission, non-profit media group Common Sense and internet advocacy group Public Knowledge recommended data collection that is necessary to monitor the ACP, which include promotional rates, taxes, overage costs and device and equipment costs. This way, they say, the FCC can get a better idea of how much is going toward internet access after applying the subsidy. They are also asking for the commission to collect information on whether the subsidy is being used to upgrade or discount current service, and how customers are becoming aware of the program.
The commission is currently trying to get more Americans on the program, which has over 13 million households signed up. That number, the commission said last week, should be much higher. As such, it ordered the development of an outreach program to market the subsidy.
Former Commissioners Commend FCC in Absence of Fifth Commissioner
But there’s concern a Senate vote on a fifth FCC commissioner will not happen before midterms.
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 – Former chairs of the Federal Communications Commission commended the current FCC administration at a symposium on Wednesday for working together on important issues with a 2-2 party split, but expressed increasing uncertainty about the fate of a fifth commissioner.
The Senate vote to confirm Gigi Sohn, a Democrat and net neutrality advocate, has stalled for months. And former FCC commissioners were wary of her prospects before the midterm elections in November. Some Republican critics are concerned that Sohn, nominated by President Joe Biden in October, won’t be able to remain non-partisan on the issues she would encounter as a commissioner.
“Confirmation is still possible, but with the extended August recess and looming midterm election, there aren’t a lot of legislative days to get the job done,” said former FCC Chair Richard Wiley. With each passing day, the confirmation becomes more difficult, agreed panelists, as the Senate could flip to a Republican-controlled chamber come November.
In the meantime, the former commissioners praised the efforts of the current staff. “A lot of credit should go to the Chairwoman [Jessica] Rosenworcel and indeed to all the commissioners for maintaining a robust agenda over the last year and half and really getting decisions made,” said Wiley. “Two Democrats, two Republicans have worked together to serve the public interest.”
William Kennard added that, “this is an energetic commission, they want to get things done.”
Some initiatives that have received unanimous FCC votes include spectrum-sharing initiatives and robocall enforcement.
Editor’s note: The comments in this story were quoted from and attributed to a July 20, 2022, symposium. That symposium was hosted by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council.
FCC Adopts Spectrum-Sharing Incentives, Proposal on Call Traffic Arbitrage
The agency voted to incentivize the sharing of underutilized spectrum to increase connectivity in the nation.
WASHINGTON, July 14, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted at its July open meeting Thursday to adopt spectrum-sharing incentives and to crack down on the practice of driving up revenue from call traffic inflation.
The commission voted to adopt a program that will build incentives for larger spectrum holders to make underutilized spectrum available to smaller carriers, tribal nations and entities serving rural areas. The program, called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program, will have incentives including longer license terms, extensions on buildout obligations, and more flexible construction requirements.
The commission is also seeking comment on whether to expand the program eligibility to non-common carriers serving non-rural areas.
“I’m excited to see the new deployments this program will foster,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “I think it will help expand wireless deployment in rural and tribal communities… to make sure we reach 100 percent of us with high-speed service.”
Experts have advocated for more carve-outs for unlicensed spectrum to tackle the growing demand for connections and relieve congestion on existing frequencies. The Rural Wireless Association applauded the FCC Thursday on the vote, saying it believes that program can “encourage the necessary transactions that can expand telecommunications and broadband service in rural America.”
Cracking down on call traffic arbitrage
The commission also proposed rules to address the practice of telephone companies inflating traffic to generate more revenue, which raises costs for long-distance carriers.
Intercarrier compensation is the system of regulated payments that sees carriers compensate each other for cross-carrier call traffic. Some companies, however, continue to take advantage of the system by inflating traffic to extract additional revenues, the FCC identified. As a result, the FCC proposes to adopt monitoring rules to identify illegal arbitrage practices.
“This rulemaking is designed to shut down the loopholes these companies are exploiting,” said Rosenworcel. It would require providers to tally and report call traffic volumes to the FCC to verify its compliance with access stimulation rules, which were adopted in 2019 to clarify financial responsibility for calls.
The FCC also proposed a $116 million fine against ChariTel Inc. for a robocall scheme that made nearly 10 million robocalls to toll-free numbers, which then generated revenue for the company from payments by the toll-free service provider.
FCC commissioners further voted to open an inquiry to evaluate how the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program can be modified to support the connectivity needs of domestic abuse survivors.
- Appeals Court Affirms FCC’s Spectrum Authority, FTC Privacy Rulemaking, (Root) Beer and Broadband
- David Flower: 5G and Hyper-Personalization: Too Much of a Good Thing?
- FCC Denies Funding for Two of the Biggest Winners of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Money
- Grid Broadband Bill, Ting Gets Financing, Finley Engineering Has New CEO
- Broadband Breakfast on August 17, 2022 – Summer of Broadband: Tennessee
- FCC Encouraged to Limit Data Collection on Affordable Connectivity Program, Others Want More
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