Rosenworcel Highlights Safety, E-Rate, Lifeline Progress During Tenure at Agency

January 3, 2017–Outgoing FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has highlighted progress that the FCC made on a number of fronts during her nearly five-year tenure, including adopting text-to-911 and indoor 911 location accuracy rules, modernizing its E-rate and Lifeline programs, adopting net neutrality regulations, and making spectrum available for 5G services. Ms. Rosenworcel’s tenure officially ended today with the end of the 114th Congress because the Senate did not vote on her nomination for a second term before it completed its business last month (TRDaily, Dec. 12, 2016).

In an 11-page statement released Dec. 30, Ms. Rosenworcel reviewed the progress that the FCC made – and the issues that she championed – since she became a Commissioner in May 2012. For example, Ms. Rosenworcel cited progress that has been made by carriers and public safety on text-to-911. “They are also working together to provide dispatchable location technology so that for every wireless call to 911—indoors and outdoors—first responders can find you,” she said. “This is a big and important update to 911 and I am proud that the solution I forged on this matter is a bipartisan one. I also worked with public safety officials to highlight funding challenges—from the diversion of 911 fees for purposes unrelated to emergency communications to the need for support programs for next generation 911 under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.”

Ms. Rosenworcel cited her advocacy to update the E-rate program, saying that “the program has been rebooted, reinvigorated, and recharged.” She also said that modernization of the Lifeline program to support broadband service will help address the “homework gap.”

She repeatedly stressed the importance of broadband deployment. “In order to build a bigger future for broadband, I am proud to have supported the effort to update our nation’s broadband definition from 4 Megabits to 25 Megabits. But I continue to believe that it’s time to stop dreaming small,” she said. “We need to dream big and set audacious broadband goals. I am proud I was the first to call for a new broadband standard of 100 Megabits. I think anything short of that shortchanges our children, our digital economy, and our future.

“I am also proud to have been a consistent supporter of network neutrality,” Ms. Rosenworcel continued. “Our Internet economy is the envy of the world. What produced this dynamic engine of entrepreneurship and experimentation is a foundation of openness.” She also cited her advocacy and the FCC’s actions concerning the technology transitions and the universal service high-cost fund.Regarding spectrum policy, Ms. Rosenworcel noted her call to use “carrots, rather than sticks” to encourage efficient use of federal spectrum, and she noted that her specific proposals included allowing agencies to get a cut of the revenues of auctions of their spectrum, updating the Spectrum Relocation Fund, and developing a system to value federal spectrum assignments.

She also noted her push to make 5G spectrum available and increase the amount of unlicensed frequencies, including through a “Wi-Fi dividend.”

Regarding consumer protection issues, Ms. Rosenworcel said she was pleased the FCC rolled out a more user-friendly interface to file consumer complaints, adding that it will be better able to use the data to inform its rulemakings.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation today praised Ms. Rosenworcel’s tenure. “Commissioner Rosenworcel has made enormous contributions during her tenure at the FCC.  Her tenacity has brought us major advances in public safety, broadband deployment, availability of spectrum and, especially, by defining and reducing the Homework Gap to bring broadband to many more young Americans and their teachers,” he said. “It is especially unfortunate that Commissioner Rosenworcel is the innocent victim of the mindless partisanship that has crippled Congress in recent years. This did not have to happen to her, and it should not happen again to her or to any other highly qualified nominee with bipartisan support.” – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily