President Joe Biden is nominating open internet advocate Alan Davidson, a longtime executive with Mozilla and Google before that, to head up the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as assistant secretary for communications and information.
NTIA is currently headed by acting administrator Evelyn Remaley.
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NTIA, which is under the Department of Commerce, is the president’s chief telecom policy adviser and has been given an expanded role in the administration's multibillion dollar subsidy effort to achieve universal broadband service. To that end, NTIA has created the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth and the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives.
Davidson is currently senior adviser at the Mozilla Foundation, billed as “a global nonprofit that promotes openness, innovation, and participation on the internet.” Before that he was VP or global policy, trust and security with Mozilla, which was the lead legal challenger to the FCC’s decision under Republican leadership to eliminate net neutrality rules.
In the Obama administration — which is now referred to by the White House as the Obama-Biden administration — Davidson was the Commerce Department's first director of digital economy.
He is also a former member of Google's policy shop, heading up government relations in Washington for seven years. He is also a nonprofit leader, having been the director of New America’s Open Technology Institute.
Washington players weighed in on the pick.
Of Davidson, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association president Michael Powell said: “[He] will play a critical role in the design of policy that will promote continued investment and innovation in wired and wireless broadband networks — including the growth of licensed and unlicensed platforms — and in supporting Congress’ clear direction to build next generation networks in unserved and underserved areas.”
“[W]e congratulate Alan Davidson on his nomination to serve as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and as Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration,” said Charter EVP Catherine Bohigian. “Mr. Davidson has served as a strong public interest advocate on behalf of digital consumers.”
“NTIA is a central driver of the government’s overall connectivity work — touching the internet, 5G, spectrum, cybersecurity and, of course, broadband deployment,” said USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter. "In Alan Davidson, President Biden has nominated a person with a range of technology and innovation experience, and a perspective that crosses the public, private and non-profit spheres. We wish him luck in his confirmation and look forward to deepening our work with NTIA and the Commerce Department to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity everywhere.
“AT&T congratulates Alan Davidson on his nomination to lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)," said Ed Gillespie, senior EVP at AT&T. "Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is putting together a strong leadership team and knowing Alan’s impressive work on policy issues in the past, he will have a positive impact on the Commerce Department’s ambitious agenda. We look forward to working with NTIA as it works on public priorities such as broadband access and adoption, 5G leadership and open RAN deployment, spectrum management, and public safety.”
“Alan Davidson occupies rarified air among Internet and technology policy experts,” said Matt Polka, president of ACA Connects, which represents smaller, independent cable operators. “As an experienced executive leader, he is ideally qualified to build and lead NTIA's team as the agency tackles critical priorities, such as administering funds for various broadband adoption and deployment programs and setting policy for federal agency use of wireless spectrum.”
Polka urged Senate confirmation “without delay.”
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.