On January 21st, 2021, President Joseph Biden appointed Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”). One week later, Chairwoman Rosenworcel participated in a meeting with public interest groupsthe first in her new rolein which advocates offered input on what the agency should tackle as immediate priorities. 

Ryan Johnston, Next Century Cities’ Policy Counsel, Federal Programs, highlighted the importance of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, network resilience, pricing data collection, and how the Commission can work with state and local partners to increase broadband availability nationwide. His comments elaborated on the points detailed below:

  • The Commission should work with state and local governments to advertise the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Historically, the provider only advertising model for Lifeline, a Universal Service Fund program, has been inadequate. The Commission working with state and local governments to advertise the program will ensure those who wish to apply can find the information to do so. 
  • In light of 2020’s historic number of natural disasters, the local governments would benefit from federal leadership on network resilience. The Commission should institute data sharing programs so that municipalities can better react and respond to network and cellular outages in their areas due to natural disasters. 
  • Broadband deployment has no single solution. The Commission must work to eliminate barriers to community broadband solutions. 

Read the ex parte of the January 28th meeting here.