Government Relations Update May 2019
FCC Releases Broadband Deployment Report
On May 29, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an update on the current state of broadband deployment in the United States. The report found that the digital divide is narrowing, with substantially more Americans having access to high-speed broadband since the release of last year’s report. According to the FCC’s analysis, the number of Americans still lacking access to the FCC’s broadband standard of 25Mbps/3Mbps dropped from 26.1 million at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million at the end of 2017. Furthermore, of the additional Americans served, most – 4.3 million – live in rural areas. In addition, the report describes a rapid increase in the number of Americans with access to high speeds of at least 250Mbps/25Mbps, a 36 percent growth to 191.5 million people. Based on the evidence provided in the report, the FCC concluded that for the second consecutive year, telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis.
However, Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks both dissented from the conclusions in the report. In their dissenting statements, Rosenworcel and Starks took issue with the methodology used in the report as well as the accuracy of its data, suggesting that the report makes overbroad assumptions. Additionally, they argued that the standards the FCC used to assess the quality of service Americans receive are outdated and inadequate. Finally, they contended that the FCC’s work is far from done and that the report paints a much more positive picture than the facts on the ground suggest.
NTIA Administrator Resigns
On May 9, 2019, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), David Redl, resigned his post. NTIA has not issued a statement regarding Redl’s departure and no official explanation for his resignation was given. Redl served as Assistant Secretary for 18 months where he acted as the chief telecom advisor to the president. Prior to his role at NTIA, he served as chief counsel at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Redl’s former deputy, Diane Rinaldo, now serves as Acting Assistant Secretary. Rinaldo began her role at NTIA as Deputy Assistant Secretary in April 2018. Before joining NTIA, Rinaldo served as a staffer on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she focused on cybersecurity and technology policy, and as the oversight and budget monitor for the National Security Agency.