• SSTI poll shows overwhelming support for innovation platform

    More than 90 percent of the electorate support expanded efforts to strengthen the key elements of a knowledge-driven economy. Members can sign up for a webinar on how the poll can inform your communications.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Incoming administration signals potential changes at FCC, tech regulations

December 17, 2020
By: Connor LaVelle

The incoming Biden administration continues to outline its priorities for the Federal Communications Commission. According to the Brookings Institution, net neutrality, broadband access and 5G security will be among the next administration’s top policies. Executing on these priorities will require both a new FCC chair and legislative action.  

Repealing 2018’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order appears to be a primary goal for the Biden administration, allowing for the reestablishment of net neutrality through a return to 2015’s Open Internet Order. Brookings notes that because of Americans’ increased reliance on the internet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Biden FCC “could go further and explicitly prohibit data caps, zero-rating, and interconnection fees within a net neutrality rulemaking.”

Beyond net neutrality goals, the incoming administration has expressed a desire to continue the FCC’s work toward bridging the digital divide and increasing the availability of broadband internet access to rural areas throughout the country. In addition to the commission’s current Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which recently awarded over $9 billion in Phase I funding for rural broadband installation, Biden’s FCC may turn its focus toward strengthening both the Lifeline Program, a service that provides telephone and internet access to low-income consumers, and the E-Rate Program, designed to provide schools and libraries with affordable broadband connections.

The FCC is expected to continue its focus on securing the country’s 5G network by eliminating wireless equipment manufactured by the Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE. The commission’s unanimous vote to provide funding for U.S. telecommunications providers to ‘rip and replace’ Chinese telecom equipment is projected to cost approximately $1.6 billion. While Congress may provide the funds as part of an upcoming omnibus spending deal, the responsibility of allocating funding will likely be the responsibility of the FCC.

New policy actions, particularly any actions with partisan support, will likely be frozen at the FCC in the immediate future. Current FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced his resignation for January 20th, and the Senate’s recent confirmation of Nathan Simington leaves the remaining commissioners potentially deadlocked at two Republicans and two Democrats. This tie will be broken once the Senate confirms a Biden nominee to be FCC Chair.

fcc net neutrality, fcc