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FCC Commissioners Face House Panel

In their first joint appearance before Chairman Greg Walden’s (R-OR) House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, all five FCC Commissioners fielded questions on a wide range of topics including process reform, spectrum auctioning, and emergency communications.

In his prepared remarks, Chairman Walden declared:

"You need to know that I—and a majority of this subcommittee, and indeed a majority of the House—remain deeply committed to the cause of improving transparency and accountability at the FCC. Too often the public has had to turn to the courts to prove procedural wrongs at the Commission, wasting taxpayer resources and leaving the impression with some that the Commission considers itself above due process. I commend the current chairman for the thoughtful reforms he has instituted, but these are but a bare minimum with no guarantee that a less thoughtful chairman in the future would follow a similar path."

Regarding the design of incentive spectrum auctions, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated, “I expect the Commission will put forward proposals by the fall, and seek broad public comment.”  Commissioner Robert McDowell added, “…we need to find new ways to encourage the Executive Branch to relinquish federal spectrum for auction, as well as help…  spectral efficiency – that is, how can we squeeze more capacity out of currently available airwaves.”

On the subject of emergency communications, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted, “Just last week in Washington we were reminded how vulnerable we are without access to communications. Weather-related power outages across the region brought life to a halt, as wireless towers and 911 centers failed too many of us. Now the FCC must begin an investigation. It must search out the facts—wherever they lead—and apply the lessons we learn, so that our networks are more resilient, more secure, and more safe.” The FCC plans to convene a group of wireless providers and broadcasters on July 20 to explore the need for FM chips in mobile phones.

  • Watch this hearing here and find follow-up comments from the Committee.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations