FCC Seeks Budget Boost to Power Equitable Communications Buildout

FCC shield on phone
(Image credit: Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission has asked for a budget increase of a little more than 5% for fiscal 2024, given inflation and its goal of getting broadband to 100% of the U.S. in an equitable and inclusive way.

In its budget request to Congress, the FCC said its top priority is the universal broadband the Biden administration has said should be achievable by the end of the decade.

To do that, the agency said, it wants a 5.3% increase to $410,743,000, up $20,551,000 from fiscal-year 2023’s $390,192,000.

It said the big gaps in deployment are tied to rural deficits, affordability and the so-called homework gap, or student access to reliable broadband.

The FCC’s goal No. 2 is “to gain a deeper understanding of how the agency’s rules, policies and programs may promote or inhibit advances in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.”

Armed with that knowledge, the FCC suggested, it will use some of that budget money to “pursue focused action and investments to eliminate historical, systemic, and structural barriers that perpetuate disadvantaged or underserved individuals and communities.”

Priority No. 3 is to “empower consumers,” the FCC said, including “[tackling] new challenges to consumer rights and opportunities stemming from digital transitions,” it said, without elaboration.

The FCC is self-sustaining and pays for its operations via regulatory fees and spectrum auction proceeds. ■

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.