Broadband Group Proposes Questions for Simington Hearing

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Connect Americans Now (CAN) has sent the Senate Commerce Committee some questions it wants asked of FCC nominee Nathan Simington. 

The committee is holding a nomination hearing on Simington, who is currently with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, on Tuesday (Nov. 10). He was nominated to fill the seat of outgoing commissioner Michael O'Rielly after the latter's nomination was pulled by President Trump.

Simington was nominated by the President after Trump rescinded O'Rielly's nomination. That followed the commissioner's criticism--in a Media Institute speech-of the President's effort to get the FCC to regulate social media.

Simington is currently senior advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is the President's chief communications advisory arm, where he worked on 5G security/supply chain issues.

He also reportedly worked on NTIA's petition to the FCC to come up with the regime for regulating social media that the President had called for in his Sec. 230 executive order, and that O'Rielly criticized.

Related: Simington FCC Confirmation Hearing Set

In the letter to the chairman and ranking member of the committee, CAN asked generally about maximizing spectrum to increase connectivity, the need for accurate broadband deployment maps and what more can be done to close the digital divide.

The specific questions include whether Simington supports the FCC's recent order expanding use of the "white spaces" between TV channels for unlicensed wireless broadband, does he believe funding for broadband deployment should be technology-neutral, and what steps he would take to insure full implementation of the Broadband DATA Act.

The letter could wind up being moot given the outcome of the presidential election. 

It is unclear whether Senate Republicans will ultimately hold a vote on Trump's choice or go with, say a top Committee staffer. Historically, though not always, the president defers to congressional leadership on filling open FCC seats. O'Rielly, for example, was a former Hill staffer, as is a front-runner for a Biden FCC chair, Jessica Rosenworcel. 

John Eggerton

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.