The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held a great panel last week , “What’s on the Agenda for the new FCC?’ I had an opportunity to listen to the panel of experts share their thoughts on what issues they think will be high on the agenda for the next FCC Chair. Panelists included: Rick Chessen (NCTA), Blair Levin (Aspen and formerly with the FCC), Randy May (Free State Foundation), Scott Bergmann (CTIA), Gigi Sohn (Public Knowledge) and Richard Bennett (ITIF).
During their initial remarks, most on the panel mentioned the IP transition, spectrum and the implementation of the national broadband plan (and broadband adoption) as the priority issues for the FCC. The ability of the FCC to actually accomplish these priorities was the first question. Blair Levin said the FCC is capable of doing these things in a timely and capable way. The FCC has the authority, but the agency needs to be mission-driven. Gigi Sohn recommends that the new Chair announce his or her agenda within the first 30 days and let the public know “what you stand for and the agenda that you are planning to set.” Rich Chessen supports the FCC being a data-driven agency, producing facts to help guide any proceedings.
The panelists also discussed the challenge of broadband adoption. Blair Levin and others acknowledged that adoption isn’t just about price/cost. The challenge is helping consumers to realize the value of broadband. Scott Bergmann added that the FCC’s broadband pilot programs will help identify barriers and the data collected will be very helpful.
The IP transition was another key topic discussed by the panelists. Blair Levin expressed hope that the government comes to some sort of timetable for deadlines so that companies to no longer need to invest in old technology at some point. Gigi Sohn stated excitement about the transition and shared Public Knowledge’s fundamental principles for the transition. A few of these principles include service to all Americans, public safety, and reliability.
I think the panelists offered some great insights into the issues we can expect to see addressed at the FCC this next year. We know that no matter who the next FCC Chair may be, he or she will certainly have some significant challenges.