Government Relations Update February 2017
Internet2 Supports R&E Nominees for FCC Broadband Committee
On January 31, 2017, the FCC established the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, which will provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access by reducing or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. Internet2 recommended in letters of support for several members that it is vital to have representatives from the R&E community on the committee to share their perspectives on broadband infrastructure investment and deployment.
President Withdraws FCC Nomination
The President has withdrawn the nomination of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel for a second term at the Federal Communications Commission. Rosenworcel previously served on the Commission from 2012 to 2017. She stepped down in January after lawmakers failed to reach a deal on reconfirming her. However, before leaving office in January, then-President Barack Obama re-nominated her to the FCC.
Senate Commerce Committee Holds Infrastructure Hearing
On March 1, 2017, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled "Connecting America: Improving Access to Infrastructure for Communities Across the Country." The panel consisted of South Dakota Governor, Dennis Daugaard; Miami Beach Mayor, Philip Levine; Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation, Carlos Braceras; and CEO of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Shirley Bloomfield.
While the hearing covered multiple infrastructure issues, much of the discussion focused on broadband deployment. The panel recommended revisiting funding levels for the Rural Utility Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and universal service fund at the FCC, streamlining regulations with a focus on speeding up permitting processes, considering a variety of project funding methods including public-private partnerships and block grants to state governments, and ensuring that government efforts are focused by a common vision or clearly articulated goal in order to prevent conflicting or duplicated efforts.
Senator Hatch Announces Innovation Agenda
The Chairman of the Republican High Tech Task Force, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), announced an "innovation agenda" aimed at maintaining America's cutting edge technological capabilities and competitiveness. The agenda highlights priorities including investing in STEM education, supporting basic research at universities and national laboratories around the country, fostering the growth of the Internet of Things, and promoting private sector investment in broadband networks.
FCC Votes to Block Internet Privacy Rule
The FCC voted 2-1 along party lines to block the implementation of a rule that would have required internet service providers to protect consumers' personal data through stricter measures. The rule, which was set to take effect on March 2, was part of a larger set of broadband privacy rules passed by the FCC in October. Critics of the rule argued that it would have imposed different requirements than the privacy rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission.
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