Wicker Questions FCC Chairman on Mobility Fund Expansion

Miss. Senator Seeks Agency Plans for Rural Broadband, Protection of Content

September 15, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today questioned members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the agency’s ongoing rulemaking and enforcement activities. The Senator’s comments were made during a committee oversight hearing.

Wicker – chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the FCC – asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler about his plans for expanding broadband into rural America. Wheeler responded by saying that the FCC is working to locate specific areas that do not have broadband coverage.

In July, Wicker sent a letter with Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and a bipartisan group of 26 other members calling for the FCC to prioritize new mobile broadband deployment in rural areas as well as preserve and upgrade mobile broadband where it is currently available. The agency took over two months to respond, doing so just hours before today’s hearing. During the exchange, Wicker pointed out the inadequacy of the agency’s response.

Wicker also questioned Commissioner Ajit Pai about the agency’s actions regarding set-top boxes. Pai noted that under the current FCC proposed rules, the FCC would have the authority to inject itself into the licensing process, which would make “it highly unlikely that content would be adequately protected in the view of all stakeholders.”

There is bipartisan concern with the FCC’s recently unveiled proposal, which includes a new licensing board overseen by the FCC. Many argue that the Commission lacks the statutory authority to impose this mandate.