Commissioner Rosenworcel testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee

Via FCC Headlines

Aug 17, 2018


AUGUST 16, 2018

"Good morning, Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson, and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

I believe the future belongs to the connected. No matter who you are or where you live in this country you need access to modern communications to have a fair shot at 21st century success. Clearing the way for this connected future should be at the heart of everything we do at the Federal Communications Commission.

Last week marked a year since I returned to the Commission. A lot can happen in twelve months. So let me offer you a quick year-end report.

Too many Americans lack access to broadband. Let’s put a number on it. Right now, 24 million Americans have no high-speed service. This is not acceptable. We need to do better.

Too often during the last year the agency acted at the behest of the corporate forces that surround it, shortchanging the American people. You can see that clearly with our roll back of net neutrality. You see it, too, with our efforts to foster the deployment of new networks but failure to fully engage those who need a voice in our policies—the cities and towns that should be our partners in the process, the Tribal communities that are entitled to government-to-government consultation, and the Department of Commerce which just last month expressed concern about how our rush to reform could harm national security and public safety services. Likewise, you see it in proposed reforms that undermine our Lifeline program—and the populations that rely on it, including those served by domestic violence shelters, military veterans, homeless youth, and residents of Puerto Rico who are still recovering from a harrowing storm and grave humanitarian crisis.

Too often our procedures fall short of what good governance requires. Our mapping practices for broadband do not accurately reflect the state of connectivity on the ground. Our claim that the agency suffered a Distributed Denial of Service Attack following John Oliver’s report on our net neutrality plans was not credible, as demonstrated by last week’s report from the FCC Inspector General. And in the meantime, the agency has ignored the fact that this public docket is flooded with fraud—including half a million comments from Russia and two million individuals with stolen identities.

I believe these things need to be fixed. So many people think that Washington is rigged against them. It saddens me when on too many occasions during the last year this agency proved them right. But good reports do not only look to the past, they offer an eye to the future—and a take on what is possible.

I believe at this table there is a desire to extend the reach of broadband service, lead the world in 5G wireless deployment, and bring the opportunities of the digital age to more people in more places.

So here are three things we can do to make that happen.

First, we need a new broadband plan. And we need to begin with the end in mind. At the start I mentioned there are 24 million Americans without access to broadband. There are 19 million Americans in rural areas who lack this service. There are 12 million students who fall into the Homework Gap because they do not have the broadband at home they need for nightly school work. Let’s commit now to a plan to ensure that every one of them has access to the high-speed service they need—by 2020. Call it Broadband 2020.

Second, we are in a worldwide race to lead the future of wireless. We are making progress, but other nations are moving further, faster. South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Australia have held or will hold a 5G auction before the United States. China, too, is poised to dole out key frequencies already reserved for 5G use. We have a blitz of bands under consideration, including 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, 3.7-4.2 GHz, 4.9 GHz, 5.9 GHz, 6 GHz, 24 GHz, 26 GHz, 28 GHz, 32 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, 42 GHz, 47 GHz, 50 GHz, and above 95 GHz. But we have only one auction scheduled. What we need now is something simple: a calendar. We need to tell the wireless ecosystem—from carriers to equipment manufacturers to consumers—just how and when the FCC will auction new airwaves to support 5G services.

Third, it’s time to set some audacious goals. Let’s not settle for the same broadband standard we have been using for years—let’s raise it to 100 Megabits per second. Let’s make sure every school has access to Gigabit speeds. Let’s ensure every rural health care facility has the speed they need for the newest innovations in telemedicine.

While we’re at it, let’s do something that should not be bold—but may feel like it is. Let’s reiterate the FCC’s support for the First Amendment and commit to media policies that ensure news organizations can report without fear or favor.

Thank you for having me at this hearing. I look forward to answering any questions you may have."

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