After almost six months under President Biden’s leadership, we have to wonder why the FCC is evenly split between 2 Democrat and 2 Republican Commissioners. Almost as perplexing is the word Acting, which continues to precede Chairwoman in the title of Jessica Rosenworcel.
Why, we must ask, are there not 3 Democrats – giving the winning party a coveted 3-2 majority – as well as a permanent Chairperson, be it Ms. Rosenworcel or someone else? There are major telecommunications policy differences between the parties, most notably that of Net Neutrality. An evenly split FCC will continue to be hamstrung on this and other key issues.
President Biden certainly has larger problems than FCC appointments, including aging infrastructure, the environment, immigration, national defense, voting rights, crime and decay in major cities and others, but federal telecommunications policies are important, too.
It is almost a foregone conclusion that a Democrat-controlled FCC will overthrow the current Net Neutrality treatment of broadband companies as Title I Information Service Providers, in favor of a more restrictive Title II Telecommunications Carriers regulatory classification.
In all probability, this will cause total investment and growth in broadband to slow somewhat, while more funding and support will be targeted to poorer urban neighborhoods, rural and agrarian communities, tribal lands and other areas negatively impacted by the Digital Divide.
Elections have consequences good and bad, but to most of us, a closing of the Digital Divide will be one very positive outcome of this one.