Senate Committee Confirms Nomination of Simington to FCC

Illustration for article titled Republican Plan to Keep the Internet Screwed Under Biden Moves Ahead

Photo: Mark Makela (Getty Images)

President-elect Joe Biden hasn’t even assumed office yet, and it’s already time for him to reach across the aisle and say with sincere force, “c’mon man!”

Along with combating a once-in-a-generation plague and a severe economic recession, cleaning up Ajit Pai’s FCC is a necessary early step for the Biden administration to get the country back on track. On Wednesday, that effort encountered a setback. At a hearing for the Senate Commerce Committee, members voted 14-12 along party lines to advance the nomination of Nathan Simington to become an FCC commissioner. The last-minute nomination of Simington by President Trump was rammed through after the re-nomination of Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly was abruptly pulled in August.

Illustration for article titled Republican Plan to Keep the Internet Screwed Under Biden Moves Ahead

The FCC is typically controlled by the party that occupies the White House. Regulations dictate that no more than three members of the panel can be

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who killed net neutrality, will step down after Trump term ends

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Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, will finish up in January.


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Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will step down Jan. 20, the agency said in a release Monday. He was appointed by President Donald Trump, who took office in 2017, and will leave on the day Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, is inaugurated.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in the release. “I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave telecom agency on January 20

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, says he is leaving the telecommunications regulator on Inauguration Day.

President-elect Joe Biden will choose a new Democratic head for the agency. A new administration typically picks a new chairman.

Pai has presided over a contentious FCC over the last four years. He undid net neutrality rules that barred internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from favoring some types of online traffic over others in 2017 and championed other deregulatory efforts. He has also worked to free up spectrum for cellphone companies so they can roll out 5G, the next-generation wireless standard that promises faster speeds, and cracked down on Chinese telecom companies as national security threats.

The incoming FCC is likely to try to reinstate net neutrality rules and focus on closing the “digital divide,” getting internet service to Americans who don’t have it because it’s not available or they

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FCC Maintains Ban on Mobile Phone Voice Calls During Flights

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a proposal to allow in-flight voice calls via mobile phones, ending its examination of an idea that evoked fears of air rage from passengers trapped beside jabbering seat mates.



a close up of a bicycle: Passenger seats are seen in the cabin of a grounded Lion Air Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 aircraft at terminal 1 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cenkareng, Indonesia, on Tuesday, March 15, 2019. Sunday’s loss of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737, in which 157 people died, bore similarities to the Oct. 29 crash of another Boeing 737 Max plane, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, stoking concern that a feature meant to make the upgraded Max safer than earlier planes has actually made it harder to fly.


© Bloomberg
Passenger seats are seen in the cabin of a grounded Lion Air Boeing Co. 737 Max 8 aircraft at terminal 1 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cenkareng, Indonesia, on Tuesday, March 15, 2019. Sunday’s loss of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737, in which 157 people died, bore similarities to the Oct. 29 crash of another Boeing 737 Max plane, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, stoking concern that a feature meant to make the upgraded Max safer than earlier planes has actually made it harder to fly.

The idea drew “strong opposition” from pilots and flight attendants, the agency said Friday in a four-paragraph order.

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The FCC in 2013 proposed

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FCC opens airwaves for WiFi

But the safety band, as the airwaves are known, has yet to live up to that promise. And FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for people to have reliable Internet access at home.

“This FCC unlike its predecessor is not going to kick the can down the road any longer,” he said.

The five-member commission’s two Democrats used a maneuver that allowed them to withhold full support for the measure without voting against it, referring to a last-minute letter by a leading Senate Democrat asking the commission to delay until the new Congress and presidential administration are installed.

Pai dismissed such calls for more time as “performative.”

The commission’s approach had the support of wireless Internet providers and others in the technology industry, but also faced determined opposition from a coalition of automakers, highway safety advocates, members of Congress who oversee transportation and Transportation

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FCC votes to open up more Wi-Fi spectrum

There’s going to be a little more room for Wi-Fi. The Federal Communications Commission voted today to open up a small amount of additional wireless spectrum for unlicensed indoor use, which should help to improve speeds and reduce congestion on 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.

The new swath of spectrum (which falls around 5.9GHz) was previously reserved for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications — but since being set aside two decades ago, the auto industry hasn’t done much with it. So now the FCC is taking away a little more than half of the airwaves it reserved and offering them up to the public for use as Wi-Fi. (Despite getting nowhere with this spectrum, the auto industry is nonetheless annoyed that the FCC is taking it away.)

“Today we put to end two decades of waste and inefficient use of the valuable 5.9GHz band,” FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly said ahead of the vote.

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Senator vows to block FCC nominee over social media regulatory push

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Tuesday he would block the nomination of a senior Trump administration official nominated to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission unless he agreed not to take part in an effort to impose new regulations on social media companies.

Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

U.S. President Donald Trump in May directed the U.S. Commerce Department to file a petition with the FCC seeking to curb legal protections for social media companies.

Nathan Simington, a Commerce Department official, acknowledged at his Senate Commerce committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he played a “minor role” in drafting the petition. “I helped with the blocking and tackling,” Simington said.

Trump has railed against Twitter Inc TWTR.N, Facebook Inc FB.O and other social media firms, claiming they have not

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