NTIA Chief Alan Davidson's Nomination Heads to Full Senate

Alan Davidson
Alan Davidson (Image credit: New America Foundation)

The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to approve the nomination of open internet advocate Alan Davidson, a longtime executive with Mozilla and Google before that, to head the National Telecommunications & Information Administration.

Three Republicans voted against the nomination--John Thune (S.D.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), and Tim Scott (S.C.).

NTIA, which is under the Department of Commerce, oversees government spectrum and is the president’s chief telecom policy adviser. NTIA 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 has been 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 of 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, 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.

Davidson and FCC nominee Gigi Sohn had their nomination hearings on the same day, but there was no vote Wednesday on Sohn's nomination, which is getting some major pushback.

Also: Washington Players Weigh in on Nominations

“NTIA is about to be supercharged with $42.5 billion in broadband deployment funding and will be at the fulcrum of connectivity policy over the next few years, so this is a super important development as Washington, states and the connectivity community look ahead to 2022 and the (complicated) implementation of the infrastructure law," said USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter.

“The agency needs a leader with not just private and public technology experience (which Mr. Davidson has), but a bold vision for 100 percent connectivity and a commitment to getting this funding out the door and into the right hands. He has that too. Here’s hoping the Senate acts ASAP and Mr. Davidson can be sworn in and get the show on the road.”

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association also praised the committee's approval of the Davidson.

“NATE is pleased that President Biden nominated Mr. Davidson to lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and supports swift action by the full Senate to confirm him as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information,” said NATE executive Todd Washam. “During his confirmation hearing, Mr. Davidson pledged to coordinate closely with the Federal Communications Commission to ensure broadband funds are deployed properly. NATE is especially gratified for his commitment to ensure that broadband deployment would be technology neutral.” ■

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.