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Newly-Designated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Names Senior Staff Officials at Agency

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WASHINGTON, January 24, 2017 — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday announced a series of staff appointments, one day after his selection as chairman was confirmed by President Donald Trump. Among the appointments include Brendan Carr as acting general counsel, Matthew Berry as chief of staff, and Nicholas Degani as senior counsel.

About the appointment of Carr, Pai said, “I am very pleased that Brendan has agreed to return to the Office of General Counsel to lead it. He is a lawyer’s lawyer, and I look forward to working with him and his team to ensure that as the agency seeks to deliver digital opportunity to every American, it does so consistent with the expressed will of Congress.”

About the other appointments, Pai said, “I am honored that this talented team has agreed to help lead the Commission. I look forward to working with them and the other skilled professionals at the agency to deliver digital opportunity to every American.”

Below are brief summaries provided by the FCC:

Brendan Carr, Acting General Counsel. For the past three years, Mr. Carr has served as Commissioner Pai’s Wireless, Public Safety, and International Legal Advisor. He joined the office from the FCC’s Office of General Counsel. In that role, he provided legal advice on a wide range of spectrum policy, competition, and public safety matters. Prior to joining the Commission, Mr. Carr was an attorney at Wiley Rein LLP, where he worked in the firm’s appellate, litigation, and telecom practices. He represented clients in both trial and appellate court proceedings, including complex litigation involving the First Amendment and the Communications Act. Earlier in his career, he served as a law clerk for Judge Dennis W. Shedd of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Carr graduated magna cum laude from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and obtained a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies. Mr. Carr received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Matthew Berry, Chief of Staff. For the past four years, Mr. Berry has served as Commissioner Pai’s Chief of Staff. He previously served as the Commission’s General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. Prior to joining Commissioner Pai’s office, he was a Partner at Patton Boggs LLP. Mr. Berry has also worked at the United States Department of Justice, serving as Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy and an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. Earlier in his career, Mr. Berry clerked for United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Additionally, he worked as a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice. Mr. Berry received his J.D. from Yale Law School and graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College.

Nicholas Degani, Senior Counsel. For the past four years, Mr. Degani has served as Commissioner Pai’s Wireline Legal Advisor. He joined the office from a detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as counsel under Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden. Before his detail, Mr. Degani served as an Attorney Advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division and Competition Policy Division, as well as the Commission’s Office of General Counsel. Mr. Degani entered the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program. Earlier in his career, Mr. Degani clerked for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and magna cum laude from Yale University, where he studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and History.

Jay Schwarz, Acting Wireline Advisor. Dr. Schwarz is an economist who will advise Chairman Pai on wireline issues. Dr. Schwarz joins the office from the Office of Strategic Planning, where he served as Acting Deputy Chief. Previously, he held positions as Deputy Chief in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division and as Supervisory Economist in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division. Prior to these roles, he worked as an economist in the Wireline Competition Bureau. In his time at the Commission, he has worked on a variety of topics, including universal service, broadband adoption, the IP transition, and spectrum policy. He has co-authored peer reviewed telecommunications research and received the FCC’s 2014 Excellence in Economics award. He serves on the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) Program Committee and has taught graduate courses in Cost Benefit Analysis and Microeconomics at the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. and M.Eng. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Alison Nemeth, Acting Media Advisor. Ms. Nemeth will advise Chairman Pai on media issues. Ms. Nemeth joins the office from the Media Bureau, where she most recently served as a Legal Advisor. She came to the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program, and she has worked on a variety of legal and policy issues in both the Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus relating to broadcast television licensing, transactions, the broadcast incentive auction, privacy, and device security. Previously, Ms. Nemeth worked as an interim legal advisor for media issues in then-Commissioner Pai’s Office. Ms. Nemeth received her J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and obtained a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies. Ms. Nemeth received her undergraduate degree from Lafayette College.

Rachael Bender, Acting Wireless Advisor. Ms. Bender will advise Chairman Pai on wireless and international issues. Ms. Bender joins the office from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, where she worked on competition issues and efforts to streamline infrastructure deployment. Before coming to the Commission, Ms. Bender served for over five years at the wireless trade association Mobile Future—most prominently as Senior Policy Director—where her work focused on a broad range of spectrum policy matters. Ms. Bender graduated from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law with a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies and from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she earned her B.A. in Government and Politics.

Zenji Nakazawa, Acting Public Safety and Consumer Protection Advisor. Mr. Nakazawa will advise Chairman Pai on public safety and consumer protection issues. Mr. Nakazawa joins the office from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, where he served as chief of the Policy and Rules Division. In that capacity, he oversaw several key portfolios, including Next Generation 911, emergency alerting, spectrum licensing, as well as various issues concerning law enforcement and national security. Prior to that, he served as deputy chief in the division. He is a former Mansfield Fellow and has worked and lived in Japan on several occasions. Mr. Nakazawa graduated from the University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law, and received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University.

Lori Alexiou, Confidential Assistant. For the past four years, Ms. Alexiou has been Commissioner Pai’s confidential assistant. She joined the office from the Commission’s Office of General Counsel, where she was a Litigation Specialist. Before that, she served as Confidential Assistant to Commissioner Meredith A. Baker and Chairman Kevin J. Martin. Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Alexiou worked at the law firms of Wiley Rein LLP and Fisher, Wayland, Cooper and Leader. She started her career working for a physician’s practice in Pennsylvania.

Kim Mattos, Acting Executive Assistant. Ms. Mattos will assist Mr. Berry and Mr. Degani. Ms. Mattos is currently a Management Analyst in the Enforcement Bureau. She was detailed to serve as Executive Assistant to the former Chief of Staff and was detailed to the acting Chairwoman’s Office in 2013 as Staff Assistant. Ms. Mattos has been with the FCC since 2003, having started in the General Counsel’s office as Executive Assistant to the General Counsel, and Legal Administrative Specialist, where she administered the FCC’s Attorney Honors Program.

Deanne Erwin, Executive Assistant. Ms. Erwin will assist Dr. Schwarz, Ms. Nemeth, Ms. Bender, and Mr. Nakazawa. For the past four years, she has served as the staff assistant to the office of Commissioner Pai. Previously, she was the assistant for William Lake, Chief of the Media Bureau. Ms. Erwin began her career at the Commission in 2000.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

FCC

FCC Institutes ACP Transparency Data Collection

The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels.

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Photo of people working on computers, cropped, in 2011 by Victor Grigas

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted an order that mandated annual reporting from all providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal initiative that subsidizes the internet-service and device costs of low-income Americans.

The FCC order establishing the ACP Transparency Data Collection, not released until Wednesday, requires ACP-affiliated providers to disclose prices, subscription rates, and other plan characteristics on yearly basis. The FCC stated that it will lean on the newly mandated broadband nutrition labels, which, it says, will ease regulatory burdens for providers.

The FCC created the Transparency Data Collection pursuant to the statutory requirements of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. The commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking in June.

Earlier this year, T-Mobile endorsed the nutrition-label method of collection. Industry associations including IMCOMPAS and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Associations warned the FCC against instituting excessive reporting burdens.

“To find out whether this program is working as Congress intended, we need to know who is participating, and how they are using the benefit,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.  “So we’re doing just that.  The data we collect will help us know where we are, and where we need to go. We’re also standardizing the way we collect data, and looking for other ways to paint a fuller picture of how many eligible households are participating in the ACP.  We want all eligible households to know about this important benefit for affordable internet service.”

Although the ACP is highly touted by the FCC, the White House, and industry experts, there is evidence the fund has been exploited by fraudsters, according to a watchdog. In September, the FCC Office of Inspector General issued a report that found the ACP handed out more than $1 million in improper benefits. In multiple instances, according to the OIG, the information of a qualifying individual was improperly used for hundreds of applications, achieving payouts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last month, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., contacted 13 leading internet service providers, requesting details on alleged fishy business practices connected to the ACP and its predecessor, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.

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Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

The FCC also mandated that internet service provider labels be machine-readable.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday afternoon ordered internet providers to display broadband “nutrition” labels at points of sale that include internet plans’ performance metrics, monthly rates, and other information that may inform consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The agency released the requirement less than 24 hours before it released the first draft of its updated broadband map.

The FCC mandated that labels be machine-readable, which is designed to facilitate third-party data-gathering and analysis. The commission also requires that the labels to be made available in customers’ online portals with the provide the and “accessible” to non-English speakers.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, discount information, data limits, and provider-contact information.

“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,”  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products.  We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services.  Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”

Industry players robustly debated the proper parameters for broadband labels in a flurry of filings with the FCC. Free Press, an advocacy group, argued for machine-readable labels and accommodations for non-English speakers, measures which were largely opposed by trade groups. Free Press also advocated a requirement that labels to be included on monthly internet bills, without which the FCC “risks merely replicating the status quo wherein consumers must navigate fine print, poorly designed websites, and byzantine hyperlinks,” group wrote.

“The failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast and a big loss for consumers,” Joshua Stager, policy director of Free Press, said Friday.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association clashed with Free Press in its FCC filing and supported the point-of-sale requirement.

“WISPA welcomes today’s release of the FCC’s new broadband label,” said Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz. “It will help consumers better understand their internet access purchases, enabling them to quickly see ‘under the hood,’ and allow for an effective apples-to-apples comparison tool when shopping for services in the marketplace.”

Image of the FCC’s sample broadband nutrition label

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FCC

FCC to Establish New Space Bureau, Chairwoman Says

‘The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head.’

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, via fcc.gov

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2022 — The Federal Communications Commission will add a new space bureau that will modernize regulations and facilitate innovation, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced Thursday.

The new bureau is intended to facilitate American leadership in the space economy, boost the Commission’s technical capacity, and foster interagency cooperation, Rosenworcel said, speaking at the National Press Club.

“The new space age has turned everything we know about how to deliver critical space-based services on its head,” Rosenworcel said. “But the organizational structures of the [FCC] have not kept pace,” she added.

The space economy is “on a monumental run” of growth and innovation, the chairwoman argued, and the FCC must remodel itself to facilitate continued growth. Rosenworcel said the commission is currently reviewing 64,000 new satellite applications, and she further noted that 98 percent of all satellites launched in 2021 provided internet connectivity. By the end off 2022, operators will set a new record for satellites launched into orbit, she said.

The FCC will not take on new responsibilities, Rosenworcel said, but the announced restructuring will help the agency “perform[] existing statutory responsibilities better.” In September, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R–Wash., warned the FCC against overreaching its statutory mandate and voiced support for robust congressional oversight – a position reiterated by House staffers Wednesday.

“The formation of a dedicated space bureau within the FCC is a positive step for satellite operators and customers across the United States,” said Julie Zoller, head of global regulatory affairs at Amazon’s satellite broadband Project Kuiper, on a panel following Rosenworcel’s announcement.

“An important part of [Rosenworcel’s] space agenda is ensuring that there is a competitive environment in all aspects of that space,” said Umair Javed, the chairwoman’s chief counsel, during the panel. “So we’ve taken action to update our rules on spectrum sharing to make sure that there are opportunities for multiple systems to be successful in low Earth orbit.

“We’ve granted a number of experimental authorizations to companies that are doing really new…things,” Umair continued.

The FCC in September required that low–Earth orbit satellite debris be removed within five years of mission completion, a move Rosenworcel said would clear the way for new innovation.

In August, the FCC revoked an $885 million grant to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-broadband service. FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington criticized the reversal, and Starlink has since appealed it.

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