FCC Task Force To Draw Line Against Broadband Red Lining

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel (Image credit: FCC)

Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel on Tuesday (February 8) said an all-of-agency task force has been created to promote broadband equity, including by preventing deployment discrimination based on income, race or other factors.

The task force, promoted by the Biden infrastructure bill requirements, will be headed by D‘wana Terry, special adviser to Rosenworcel and acting director of the Office of Workplace Diversity.

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Others in leadership positions are Sanford Williams, also a special adviser and deputy managing director in the office of managing director; and Alejandro Roark, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

The task force‘s creation coincides with a big push from the Biden administration to close the digital divide through a host of broadband subsidy programs that include equity as a key element, dating from COVID-19-related funds and the new infrastructure bill broadband investments.

Among the infrastructure bill's directives, the FCC pointed out in announcing the new task force, was to adopt final rules on facilitating equal access to broadband, including by prevent deployment discrimination.

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The task force will also come up with “model policies” for the states getting billions of dollars of those subsidies for their own broadband deployment and adoption efforts.

Finally, Rosenworcel said the FCC will tweak its public complaint process to more prominently seek input from consumers who feel they are facing digital discrimination.

The statutory deadline for the initiatives is November 23. ■

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.