STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL - “OVERSIGHT OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION”
July 13, 2012
Good morning, Chairman Walden,
Ranking Member Eshoo, and members of the Subcommittee. It is an honor to
appear before you today in the company of my new colleagues at the
Federal Communications Commission. I also would like to thank Chairman
Genachowski, Commissioner McDowell, Commissioner Clyburn, and the FCC
Let me begin by
noting that there is no sector of the economy more dynamic than
communications. By some measures, communications technologies account
for one-sixth of the economy in the United States. They support our
commerce, connect our communities, and enhance our security. They help
create good jobs. By unlocking the
But communications technology is changing at a brisk pace. Laws and regulations struggle to keep up. So it is important that the FCC approach its tasks with a healthy dose of humility. At the same time, I believe that there are enduring values in the Communications Act that must always inform our efforts.
First, public safety
is paramount. Congress directed the FCC to promote the safety of life
and property in the very first sentence of the Communications Act. The
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act builds on this principle
with its framework for a nationwide network for first responders. Just
last week in Washington we were
service is essential. No matter who you are or where you live,
prosperity in the twenty-first century will require access to broadband.
The FCC’s ongoing efforts to promote broadband deployment and adoption
are built on this simple truth. But I believe the principle of universal
service goes further. It incorporates the
Third, competitive markets are fundamental. Competition inspires private sector investment. It is the most effective means of facilitating innovation and ensuring that consumers reap its benefits.
Fourth, consumer protection is always in the public interest. Communications and media services are growing more complex and becoming a more substantial part of household budgets. It is vitally important to get consumers the information they need to make good choices in a marketplace that can be bewildering to navigate. Here the FCC, working with industry, has made strides, including with its new bill shock initiatives. But going forward, the FCC should strive to make the data it produces more useful for consumers and make the complaint process more responsive to their needs.
In the months ahead, the FCC will have no shortage of challenging issues to address. Let me highlight one: the growing demand for spectrum. The statistics vary, but are undeniably striking. In the next five years, mobile data traffic will grow between 16 and 35 times.
But let me start by traveling back. For nearly two decades, the FCC’s path-breaking spectrum auctions have led the world. The agency has held more than 80 auctions, issued more than 36,000 licenses, and raised more than $50 billion for the United States Treasury.
In the Middle Class
Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, Congress provided the FCC with
authority to hold a new kind of auction—incentive auctions—to facilitate
the voluntary return of spectrum from commercial licensees and promote
its reuse. I am confident that with the right mix of engineering and
economics, the agency can once
believe that with a concerted effort, the FCC can identify ways that
guard bands can support new and innovative unlicensed services,
contributing billions to our economy. But I do not believe that
incentive auctions alone will meet our spectrum challenge. The equation
here is simple. The demand for airwaves is going up. The supply of
unencumbered airwaves is going down. This is the time to innovate. We
must put American know-how to work and create incentives to invest in
technologies—geographic, temporal, and cognitive—that multiply the
capacity of our airwaves. We also must find ways that reward federal
users when they make efficient use of their
It is an exciting time in communications. The issues before the FCC are not easy. But the rewards of getting them right are tremendous—they will grow the economy, create jobs, and enhance our civic life.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to working with you, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.