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.
FCC Commissioner Supports Rural Telco Efforts to Implement ‘Rip and Replace’
In remarks at the Rural Wireless Association event on Wednesday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks reaffirmed the FCC’s goals.
PARK CITY, Utah, June 30, 2022 – Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks acknowledged the agency’s goal of obtaining secure broadband networks at an event of the Rural Wireless Association on Wednesday.
“We must ensure that our broadband networks are secure,” Starks said in keynote address at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here, delivered via Zoom. “This is evident in the constant barrage of attacks of American networks from hostile state and non-state actors.”
Starks continued, “insecure networks, by definition, can’t provide the stable, reliable, always on communications we need. Especially during emergencies… Broadband must be secure for the full benefits of broadband to be achieved.”
The issue of ridding American telecommunications networks of equipment manufactured in China was a constant theme during the conference.
In addition to Starks’ presentation, several sessions addressed the dilemma faced by telecommunications carriers, particular rural ones, that had in the past invested heavily in lower-cost equipment from Huawei, a leading Chinese manufacturer.
As the political winds have changed on the topic over the past three years, Congress has allocated funds for a “rip and replace” program. The FCC is expected to announce the providers that will receive nearly $2 billion as part of the program by July 15.
But some fear that number could be more than $4 billion short of needed funds.
“The funds available will cover only a very small portion” of the costs to replace Huawei with non-Chinese manufacturers, said Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association.
Potential new requirements imposed on telecom providers
The commission recently sought comment on whether it should require carriers that receive high-cost support to have include baseline cyber security and supply chain risk management plans.
If these plans are included in requirements, Starks said that American communication networks would be protected from bad actors. Moreover, they are consistent with requirements already included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Starks thanked the RWA for its activity and advocacy in the “rip and replace” proceedings, officially dubbed the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program.
“The threat is real,” called Starks. “Companies that are deemed by the federal government to be a threat to the United States and its people can not have free reign in data centers featuring some of the most sensitive data of Americans.”
This comes only days after Commissioner Brendan Carr called for Apple and Google to remove Beijing-based popular video-sharing application, TikTok, from their app stores in response to the apps’ obligation to comply with the Peoples Republic of China’s surveillance demands.
Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks Calls for Environmental Sustainability at Summit
Environmental sustainability in telecom has been a key talking point for Starks.
June 27, 2022 – Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Geoffrey Starks raised on Monday the importance of sustainability in telecommunications as a speaker at the 2022 Broadband for All Summit in Stockholm, Sweden.
An important responsibility for agencies in the industry is building infrastructure that is environmentally sustainable, Starks said, suggesting four avenues to improve sustainability.
First, “we must continue to find ways to do more while using less, and that begins with the way we use spectrum,” he said. We need to “squeeze” the most out of the finite spectrum while simultaneously building networks that draw less power.
Second, “we need to realize our full potential to help other sectors consume less, too.”
We are entering an era where we can “collect, communicate, and analyze massive quantities of data to improve decision-making in real-time. Everything from traffic flow to energy transmission to orders of operation on the factory floor can benefit from data-driven efficiencies that were previously impossible,” he said.
Third, “industry-led initiatives must continue to play a significant role, from progressing towards reducing or eliminating the carbon emissions associated with their operations, to increasing renewable energy and minimizing electronic waste.”
Some manufacturers, according to Starks, have gone beyond carbon neutrality and are aiming for net-zero operations.
Fourth, “we must collectively do our part to mitigate climate change’s harmful effects at the network level”. With harsher weather patterns than previous generation, we should invest in networks that will keep communities connected during storms, floods, wildfires, and other disasters.
Starks, who has pitched environmental sustainability in telecommunications on a multiple occasions, advocated for players in the industry to be “as aggressive as possible with our climate commitments, and we should be as comprehensive as possible in our effort to comply with them.” This should include eliminating waste during the production phase, he said.
FCC to Gather Information on Offshore Spectrum, Accurate 911 Call Routing
The FCC is examining the need and use cases for allocating spectrum for offshore use.
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted in an open meeting Wednesday to examine technology that can improve wireless 911 call routing, propose a fine for interrupting U.S. forest service radio communications, and to seek comment on offshore spectrum needs and uses.
The FCC voted to begin gathering information through public comment on the “possible current and future needs, uses, and impacts of offshore wireless spectrum use,” including for cruise ships, oceanography and wind turbine projects. Other options, like satellite-based systems, are available to provide service.
The construction and operation of windfarms in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and communication services between at-sea vessels require offshore spectrum. The notice of inquiry asks what other cases exist that require offshore spectrum access that are not being provided for under existing models.
“We seek more broadly to understand the extent of the demand to use offshore spectrum and more generally where that demand is concentrated,” stated the inquiry.
“It is important that the FCC stay ahead of the curve in its consideration of upcoming commercial spectrum needs and this item does just that,” said commissioner Nathan Simington.
911 call routing
The FCC launched an examination into technology that could result in faster response times by more precisely routing wireless 911 calls to the correct call center.
Some wireless emergency calls are made near city or county borders where the closest call center is in the neighboring jurisdiction, resulting in lost time as calls are rerouted to the correct call center.
Since 2018, when the FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on feasibility of routing 911 calls based on location of the caller versus location of the cellular tower, there have been many advancements in location-based routing technology. The FCC issued a Public Notice Wednesday seeking updated information on these technologies and the feasibility of adopting them into public use.
Last month, AT&T announced a new technology that would allow dispatchers to get a more accurate location of distressed calls by using the phone’s GPS.
Proposed fine for violating radio interference rules
The FCC also proposed a $34,000 fine Wednesday against Jason Frawley who, in 2021, allegedly interfered with radio communications that were guiding firefighting during the 1000-acre wildfire near Elk River, Idaho.
Frawley reportedly admitted to a Forest Service supervisor that he broadcasted on government frequencies in direct defiance to the Communications Act which prohibits any interference with authorized radio communications.
Neither the allegations nor the proposed sanctions are final FCC actions, said the press release.
- FCC Opens Broadband Data Collection Program
- FCC Commissioner Supports Rural Telco Efforts to Implement ‘Rip and Replace’
- States Must Ease Zoning, Permit Regulations for Broadband Buildouts
- Broadband Prices Decline, AT&T’s Fiber Build in Texas, Conexon Partners for Build in Georgia
- Leo Matysine: The Impact of C-Band on Advancements in Mobile and Fixed Broadband
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