Jan 31, 2017

FCC moves to expand internet access

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai used his first public meeting to announce a new advisory committee on broadband deployment. Here's what it will do:

  • Develop a stock set of broadband policies that cities can use ease the process for zoning and permitting to boost deployment of new networks.
  • Make broad recommendations on how to expand broadband access, including how to change and eliminate regulations

Who will be on it: "Representatives of consumers and community groups, the communications industry, and federal, state, local, and Tribal officials are encouraged to apply," the FCC said in a statement.

The bigger picture: Even though this move simply forms a committee, it's the latest indication that Pai is making expanding internet access a core part of his agenda. He met last week with groups active on the issue and voted to provide funding for broadband expansion in rural parts of New York. Broadband will probably be part of a debate over infrastructure spending this year.

Open question: What will happen to Lifeline? Pai was critical of a recent expansion of the program to subsidize phone and internet service for low-income people, saying it's fraught with waste, fraud and abuse. He said at a Tuesday press conference that the commission is reviewing the issue but hasn't made any decisions yet.

Go deeper