US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is up to a full deck for the first time under the new administration, after a senate vote confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr as new commissioners.
The FCC is typically directed by five commissioners appointed by the US president to serve for five year terms, but the US regulator operated with three commissioners for the last seven months under Donald Trump’s administration.
Rosenworcel, a known supporter of net neutrality rules, served as FCC commissioner under the previous administration, but the US Senate did not reconfirm her position following the departure of former chairman Tom Wheeler.
She joins Mignon Clyburn to serve as the two Democratic Party representatives of the commission.
On the Republican majority, chairman Ajit Pai and commissioner Michael O’Reilly are joined by Carr, who is the current general counsel at the FCC.
Both Rosenworcel and Carr take their positions as commissioners at a time when Pai is conducting a review around the rules around internet provision and net neutrality in the US, with hopes of dismantling regulation imposed by the previous administration.
He believes the current rules are restricting investment from ISPs.
Rosenworcel was a strong advocate of implementing the rules which prohibit internet providers prioritising specific traffic to the detriment of other services, under the previous FCC administration.
In a statement, Pai congratulated the new commissioners: “I’m pleased that the FCC will once again be at full strength and look forward to collaborating to close the digital divide, promote innovation, protect consumers, and improve the agency’s operations.”
In a separate announcement, the US regulator opened an inquiry seeking feedback “on ways to expand opportunities for next-generation services” – with a particular focus on mobile broadband services in mid-band spectrum.
The move will see the FCC evaluate spectrum bands between 3.7GHz and 24GHz, to “ensure the commission is exploring all potential options to meet the ever increasing demands for spectrum”.
In particular, it is seeking feedback on mid-range bands 3.7GHz-4.2GHz and 5.925GHz-6.425GHz.
Harmonise renewal process
In a third announcement, the commission said it was taking steps “to streamline and harmonise its licence renewal and service continuity rules” so wireless radio services licensees have a consistent framework and use spectrum to benefit the whole of the country.
This will include setting a consistent standard for renewing wireless licences, among other practices. It also wants feedback and ideas on how to facilitate continued investment in the sector during licence renewals.