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Rosenworcel Calls for Aggressive FCC Action on Coronavirus

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says the FCC needs to take aggressive action in the face of the coronavirus, including meeting with broadband providers to get a fix on what they are doing. 

“The coronavirus is already exposing hard truths about the digital divide," she said in a statement, "but the Federal Communications Commission has the power to help. Nationwide this crisis means that we are going to explore the expansion of telework, telehealth, and tele-education." 

She made the same call at a Hill hearing Wednesday (March 11) on the FCC's budget.

Rosenworcel said the FCC should convent broadband providers ASAP. "We need to understand how broadband providers will keep workers safe and keep their services running for Americans who will increasingly rely on broadband connectivity for work, healthcare, and education," she said. 

Rosenworcel said the FCC effort should include facilitating public private partnerships and launching consumer education campaigns, suggesting it was critical to expand connectivity ASAP "at little or no-cost to Americans who are impacted by the coronavirus." She also suggested that data caps should be limited or eliminated. 

Democratic commissioner Geoffrey Starks made a similar call for action in testimony before Congress. 

“The FCC has already been coordinating closely with network operators and has been encouraged by the feedback we have received both regarding the ability of their networks to handle changes in usage patterns caused by the coronavirus outbreak and their plans to maintain their own operations during the outbreak," said spokesperson for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "However, we continue to monitor the situation closely.”   

John Eggerton
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.