TECH

Biden names new FCC acting chair in a step towards better internet access

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Following the resignation of former FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, President Joe Biden wasted no time in appointing his replacement, just one day after the presidential inauguration. Jessica Rosenworcel is now the acting chair of the FCC, making her the second woman to hold this spot. Prior to this, she sat on as the senior Democratic commissioner after first being appointed to the FCC back in 2012 under the Obama administration.

I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden. I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunities in the digital age.

Rosenworcel has been an advocate for net neutrality, and making the internet more accessible and affordable for everyone across the country. She fought for students to have high-speed internet access to push them out of the “homework gap”, which affects roughly 40% of families whose children have difficulty completing homework assignments without it. This is especially important during the current global pandemic, which has forced many schools to function solely through distance-learning.

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This is in stark contrast to the former FCC chair, Ajit Pai, who actively campaigned against net neutrality during his tenure. And to add insult to injury, he recently released his final broadband deployment report, and according to Ars Technica, declared that the FCC’s 6-year-old internet standards of 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds should hold. “25/3Mbps remains an appropriate measure by which to assess whether a fixed service is providing advanced telecommunications capability.”

Rosenworcel could get net neutrality back on track.

The appointment of Rosenworcel is a step in the right direction towards pushing President Biden’s agenda as it pertains to U.S. telecommunications. While the best wireless carriers in the U.S. are pushing their 5G networks, there are still plenty of rural areas in the country that either have slow broadband connections or none at all and thus are often left with the only choice in their area that can often cost way more than it’s worth. According to Bloomberg, “the Federal Communications Commission will dodge the risk of major delays in Democrats’ priorities, like restoring regulation of high-speed internet service.”

It’s worth noting that even with the appointment of Rosenworcel as Acting Chair, Biden still has to fill the remaining open spot if he wants anything to get done. Whoever he chooses as the final Democratic pick could either be appointed official FCC Chair, or as a final commissioner, but either way it would allow Democrats to move forward with undoing some of the policies from the last four years and introducing new ones that could further address America’s troubled communications industry.

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