Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr PRO
Yesterday, President Biden announced his slate of nominees to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks were renominated for another term, and newcomer Anna Gomez was nominated for the fifth seat that has been vacant since former Chairman Ajit Pai’s resignation. We will cover each nominee in due course, beginning today with Commission Carr.
The FCC has been subjected to much unwarranted scrutiny over the lack of a fifth commissioner through the entirety of the Biden Administration. Despite the 2-2 split between Democrat and Republican commissioners, however, the work of the FCC under the joint leadership of Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and senior Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr proves these concerns baseless. The FCC has functioned as one of the most effective federal agencies from the Biden Administration due to the cooperative, bipartisan work of the active commissioners. As a result, Congress should accept President Biden’s request to renominate Carr for another term on the Commission.
Even before Rosenworcel’s stint as Chair of the FCC, Carr proudly earned the label “the FCC’s 5G crusader” from Axios. His work in removing bureaucratic red tape within the telecommunications sector has saved billions of dollars and helped industry build out high-speed broadband networks nationwide. As one of the few federal government agency heads to earn a nomination from both President Trump and Biden, Carr’s approach to deregulation and cooperation with Democratic commissioners has enabled him to earn well-deserved respect while pursuing policies that benefit the American broadband industry and consumers.
Under Rosenworcel and Carr, the FCC is finally addressing the longstanding need for providing consistent rules for the use of utility poles. Too much private and government broadband funding has previously been wasted on paying exorbitant rates for municipal pole attachments. The current commission has recognized this issue and has already opened up the reform process for public comment. This efficacious approach to policy making is allowing the FCC to tackle a longstanding issue in broadband buildout, instead of wasting time on controversial, polarizing, or radical policies that a different set of commissioners could have advanced.
Additionally, Brendan Carr has ensured that updating broadband coverage maps remains an essential priority for the agency. The FCC released the first set of new maps on schedule in November 2022 that provided a beginning in their process of creating and disseminating updated maps. They also remain on schedule to release the second set of maps that “will be noticeably better – thanks in large part to even better location data.” Oftentimes, bureaucratic gridlock and red tape can interfere with these sorts of projects. The FCC’s leadership, therefore, deserves credit for their success in developing and rolling out the new maps.
Congress should swiftly approve Brendan Carr’s renomination to the FCC. His excellent work at rolling back regulations and achieving incredible success within the Commission, despite lacking one commissioner for the past year, validate President Biden’s renomination and justify unanimous support on his reconfirmation vote.