The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing today with all five Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioners to discuss oversight of the Commission.
The hearing touched on a wide range of issues. Of those included the auction of high band spectrum, the FCC’s set top box proposal, and the sustainability of the Lifeline program.
FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, set the stage for the FCC’s open meeting on Thursday that will clarify the FCC’s policy and plan on high-band spectrum. This is another first of its kind auction. Wheeler is optimistic about the proceedings. He belives more high-band spectrum will allow the United States to lead the world in high speed, high capacity 5th Generation (5G) networks.
Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Representative Bob Latta, began by taking aim at the set top box proposal saying it is not the solution to protecting consumers. Representative Marsha Blackburn followed shortly thereafter saying the FCC has not ensured people be compensated for creating what is theirs, and the proposal threatens small businesses.
In Commissioner Ajit Pai’s testimony, he criticized the Commission’s set top box proposal further by saying it “misses the mark” and fails to protect the intellectual property of consumers and disproportionately hurts small businesses. He also said the proposal fails the most basic test of providing all consumers with the same privacy protections. He strongly recommended an approach that would lead towards an app-based system instead.
Pai continued by addressing the rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, which is meant to increase Internet access for low-income families. Pai added that the abuse is greater than he imagined, and that the program does not serve the low-income families that deserve it.
Americans for Tax Reform joined a coalition letter expressing gratitude that the Committee is looking into these important matters, and outlined concerns about the harmful effects of the FCC’s policies. The full letter can be found here.