Digital Divide

Chairman Pai Archive: Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans

Suspension bridge transforming into rainbow colored cables

 
"Since my first day as Chairman of the FCC, my number one priority has been closing the digital divide and bringing the benefits of the Internet age to all Americans." – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

High-speed Internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement. But there are too many parts of this country where broadband is unavailable. In 2018, in urban areas, 97% of Americans have access to high-speed fixed service. In rural areas, that number falls to 65%. And on Tribal lands, barely 60% have access. All told, nearly 30 million Americans cannot reap the benefits of the digital age.

Key Initiatives

Under Chairman Pai's leadership, the FCC moved aggressively to expand broadband across America. Initiatives include:

  • Launched the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which directed up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas. This represents the biggest single step ever by the FCC toward closing the rural digital divide.
  • Established the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, a new process for collecting fixed broadband data to improve mapping and better identify gaps in broadband coverage across the nation.
  • Authorized over $4.9 billion in support through the A-CAM program over a decade for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable rural broadband for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 rate-of-return carriers in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on Tribal lands.
  • Approved $950 million in funding to improve, expand, and harden communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Spearheaded the Connect America Fund Phase II reverse auction, which allocated $1.488 billion to expand broadband to more than 700,000 rural locations in 45 states. Through this fund, the FCC also partnered with New York to provide up to $170 million to support rural broadband in combination with $220 million from the state.
  • Launched the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, including ways to reduce and remove regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.
  • Initiated rulemakings focused on speeding the deployment of both wireline and wireless networks.
  • Streamlined rules to accelerate the transition to modern broadband networks. These include:
    • Updated rules that govern access to utility poles and conduits, which can be a costly and time-consuming barrier to broadband deployment.
    • Revised rules that needlessly delay or even stop companies from replacing copper with fiber and that delay discontinuance of technologies from the 1970s in favor of services using Internet Protocol (IP) technologies.

Reports & Data

Road Trip Highlights (Moments)

News

September 17, 2020 - Report
FCC Accomplishments Under Chairman Ajit Pai Through September 2020

May 18, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Proposes Procedures for $16 Billion Rural Broadband Auction

January 30, 2020 - News Release
FCC Launches $20 Billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

January 29, 2020 - News Release
What They're Saying About the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

January 14, 2020 - News Release
FCC Estimates State-by-State Impact of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

January 14, 2020 - Speech
Chairman Pai at 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window Workshop

January 13, 2020 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on Digital Divide in Hawaii

January 8, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Tees Up Rural Digital Opportunity Fund for a Vote

December 16, 2019 - News Release
FCC Authorizes $89.2 Million For Rural Broadband In 21 States

December 11, 2019 - News Release
What They're Saying About Chairman Pai's Proposed $9 Billion 5G Fund

December 6, 2019 - News Release
Pai Names Leaders of Precision Agriculture Task Force Working Groups

December 4, 2019 - News Release
Pai Announces Plan to Launch $9 Billion 5G Fund for Rural America

December 3, 2019 - Report and Order
FCC Acts to Speed the Deployment of Wi-Fi in Schools and Libraries

December 2, 2019 - Letters
Chairman Pai Writes Tribal Leaders with Dates of 2.5 GHz Rural Window

November 1, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Launches Rural Tribal Window Webpage and Mapping Tool

November 19, 2019 - News Release
Pai Announces Members & First Meeting Of Precision Ag Task Force

October 31, 2019 - Order on Reconsideration
FCC Takes Steps to Enforce Quality Standards for Rural Broadband

October 10, 2019 - News Release
FCC Authorizes Over $61.8 Million in Funding for Rural Broadband

September 30, 2019 - Report and Order
FCC Invests $950 Million to Improve Broadband in Puerto Rico, USVI

September 12, 2019 – News Release
FCC Authorizes Nearly $112.2 Million in Funding for Rural Broadband

September 4, 2019 - News Release
Pai Proposes $950 Million for Broadband in Puerto Rico, U.S.V.I.

August 28, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at University of Mississippi Tech Summit

August 22, 2019 – News Release
FCC Authorizes Support For Broadband to Over 44,000 Tribal Locations

August 22, 2019 – News Release
FCC OKs $4.9 Billion to Maintain, Improve, and Expand Rural Broadband

August 12, 2019 – News Release
FCC Authorizes $16.2 Million In Broadband Funding In Upstate New York

August 12, 2019 – News Release
FCC Authorizes $121 Million In Rural Broadband Funding In 16 States

August 6, 2019 - Report and Order
FCC Improves Broadband Mapping

August 2, 2019 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Proposes $20.4 Billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

July 22, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at Opening of OneWeb Satellites' Facility in FL

July 15, 2019 - News Release
FCC Authorizes $524 Million for Rural Broadband Expansion in 23 States

July 15, 2019 - News Release
FCC Authorizes $39.2 Million For Rural Broadband In New York

July 11, 2019 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Proposes $100 Million Connected Care Pilot Telehealth Program

July 9, 2019 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Aims to Speed the Deployment of Wi-Fi in Schools and Libraries

July 5, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at Universal Service Workshop in Argentina

June 17, 2019 - News Release
Chairman Pai Forms Precision Agriculture Task Force

June 10, 2019 – Statement
Chairman Pai Statement on Increased Broadband Investment in 2018

June 10, 2019 – News Release
FCC Authorizes $166.8 Million to Expand Rural Broadband in 22 States

May 29, 2019 – Report
Broadband Deployment Report: Digital Divide Narrowing Substantially

May 22, 2019 – News Release
FCC Chairman Discusses Rural Broadband in Okmulgee, Oklahoma

May 14, 2019 – News Release
FCC Approves First Wave of Funding From Connect America Fund Auction

May 10, 2019 – MOO&A
FCC Authorizes Theia's Satellite Constellation

May 2, 2019 – News Release
FCC Offers Incentives For Over 500 Rural Carriers To Provide Faster Broadband To Over 1 Million Rural Homes And Businesses

May 1, 2019 – Report
Report on Broadband Deployment in Indian Country, Pursuant to the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018

May 1, 2019 – News Release
Revised Draft Broadband Deployment Report Continues To Show America's Digital Divide

April 29, 2019 – News Release
Over 106,000 Rural Homes And Businesses To Get Better, Faster Broadband

March 15, 2019 - News Release
FCC Takes Additional Steps to Combat Rural Call Completion Problems

March 14, 2019 - NPRM
FCC takes steps to facilitate broadband services in the 900 MHz band

February 25, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Offers More Funds for Faster High-Speed Broadband in Rural America

February 19, 2019 - News Release
Draft FCC Broadband Report: Digital Divide Is Narrowing Substantially

March 15, 2019 - News Release
FCC Takes Additional Steps to Combat Rural Call Completion Problems

March 14, 2019 - NPRM
FCC takes steps to facilitate broadband services in the 900 MHz band

February 25, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Offers More Funds for Faster High-Speed Broadband in Rural America

February 19, 2019 - News Release
Draft FCC Broadband Report: Digital Divide Is Narrowing Substantially

February 15, 2019 - News Release
FCC Takes Next Step Toward Further Rural Broadband Expansion

December 13, 2018 - R&O/NPRM, Order on Reconsideration
FCC Increases Universal Service Support for Faster Rural Broadband

December 10, 2018 - Public Notice
FCC Announces BDAC Re-Charter and Solicits Nominations for Membership

November 15, 2018 - News Release
FCC Boosts Satellite Broadband Connectivity & Competition

August 28, 2018 - Public Notice
Connect America Auction to Expand Broadband to 713,176 Rural Locations

August 3, 2018 - R&O, Declaratory Ruling
FCC Speeds Access to Utility Poles to Promote Broadband, 5G Deployment

August 1, 2018 - News Release
What They're Saying: Chairman Pai's One-Touch Make-Ready Proposal

July 10, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at Global Symposium for Regulators in Geneva

June 25, 2018 - Report and Order
FCC Increases Funding for Rural Telehealth

June 25, 2018 - Public Notice
FCC Qualifies 220 Bidders for Connect America Fund Auction (#903)

June 14, 2018 - News Release
Chairman Pai's Rural Health Care Proposal Receives Majority Support

June 8, 2018 - Report and Order
FCC Eliminates Needless Barriers to Next-Generation Networks, Services

June 6, 2018 - Order
Commission Grants O3b Modification of U.S. Market Access

June 6, 2018 - Order Authorization
Commission Authorizes Audacy to Provide Inter-Satellite Communications

June 6, 2018 - News Release
Chairman Pai Proposes Funding Increase for Rural Health Care Program

May 29, 2018 - Report and Order/NPRM
FCC Gives Additional Funding to Restore Networks in PR and USVI

April 18, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at Farm Foundation/USDA Summit

March 23, 2018 - Report and Order
FCC Provides Additional $500 Million in Funding for Rural Broadband

March 22, 2018 - News Release
FCC Acts to Speed Deployment of Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure

March 6, 2018 - News Release
Chairman Pai Proposes $954 Million Plan For Puerto Rico and USVI

February 22, 2018 - News Release
FCC Resolves Petitions for Reconsideration for Mobility Fund Phase II

February 22, 2018 - News Release
FCC Updates National Broadband Map

February 2, 2018 - Report
FCC Releases 2018 Broadband Deployment Report

January 30, 2018 - News Release
FCC Takes Final Steps for Next Phase of Rural Broadband Expansion

January 16, 2018 - Statement
Chairman Pai Proposes $500 Million Boost for Rural Broadband

December 1, 2017 - Report & Order
FCC Action to Transform Lifeline Program for Low-Income Americans

September 21, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks to Kansas Broadband Conference

October 26, 2017 - Public Draft
Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers

October 26, 2017 - Public Notice
WCB Opens Docket "Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers"

October 10, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai's Remarks at Reagan Presidential Library: "Morning in Digital America"

September 21, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks to Kansas Broadband Conference

August 3, 2017 - News Release
Commission Establishes Challenge Process for Mobility Fund Phase II

August 3, 2017 - News Release
FCC Takes Next Step Toward $2 Billion Rural Broadband Expansion

July 21, 2017 - Public Notice
C2H To Hold Listening Sessions on Bridging Broadband Health Divide

July 13, 2017 - Blog
Bridging the Digital Divide

June 26, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai Speech at Broadband For All Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden

March 20, 2017 - Blog
On the Road in the Industrial Midwest

March 15, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai on Bringing Benefits of the Digital Age to All Americans

 

5G

Chairman Pai Archive: The FCC's 5G FAST Plan

 

5G Speedometer
Under Chairman Pai, the FCC pursued a comprehensive strategy to Facilitate America's Superiority in 5G Technology (the 5G FAST Plan). The Chairman's strategy included three key components: (1) pushing more spectrum into the marketplace; (2) updating infrastructure policy; and (3) modernizing outdated regulations.

 
"Forward-thinking spectrum policy, modern infrastructure policy, and market-based network regulation form the heart of our strategy for realizing the promise of the 5G future." – FCC Chairman Pai

Spectrum

The FCC took action to make additional spectrum available for 5G services.

  • High-band: The FCC made auctioning high-band spectrum a priority. The FCC concluded its first 5G spectrum auctions in the 28 GHz band; the 24 GHz band; and the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. With these auctions, the FCC released almost 5 gigahertz of 5G spectrum into the market—more than all other flexible use bands combined. The FCC also worked to free up 2.75 gigahertz of 5G spectrum in the 26 and 42 GHz bands and it initiated a proceeding to make more efficient use of additional millimeter-band spectrum in the 70/80/90 GHz bands.
  • Mid-band: Mid-band spectrum has become a target for 5G buildout given its balanced coverage and capacity characteristics. With our work on the 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and 3.7-4.2 GHz bands, we made more than 600 megahertz available for 5G deployments.
  • Low-band: The FCC acted to improve use of low-band spectrum (useful for wider coverage) for 5G services, with targeted changes to the 600 MHz, 800 MHz, and 900 MHz bands.
  • Unlicensed: Recognizing that unlicensed spectrum will be important for 5G, the agency created new opportunities for the next generation of Wi-Fi in the 5.9 GHz, 6 GHz and above 95 GHz band.

Infrastructure Policy

Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, formed by Chairman Pai in 2017, provides advice and recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. See the latest BDAC news.

The FCC updated infrastructure policy and encouraging the private sector to invest in 5G networks.

  • Speeding Up Federal Review of Infrastructure: The FCC adopted new rules that reduced federal regulatory impediments to deploying infrastructure needed for 5G and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service.
  • Speeding Up State and Local Review of Small Cells: The FCC reformed rules designed decades ago to accommodate small cells. The reforms ban short-sighted municipal roadblocks that have the effect of prohibiting deployment of 5G and give states and localities a reasonable deadline to approve or disapprove small-cell siting applications..

Modernizing Outdated Regulations

The FCC modernized outdated regulations to promote the wired backbone of 5G networks and digital opportunity for all Americans.

  • 5G Fund for Rural America: The Commission established the 5G Fund for Rural America in October 2020 to make up to $9 billion in Universal Service Fund support available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural America (including up to $680 million for deployment on Tribal lands). The Fund also sets aside at least $1 billion specifically for deployments facilitating precision agriculture needs.
  • Restoring Internet Freedom: To lead the world in 5G, the United States needs to encourage investment and innovation while protecting Internet openness and freedom. The FCC adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which sets a consistent national policy for Internet providers.
  • One-Touch Make-Ready: The FCC has updated its rules governing the attachment of new network equipment to utility poles in order to reduce cost and speed up the process for 5G backhaul deployment.
  • Speeding the IP Transition: The FCC revised its rules to make it easier for companies to invest in next-generation networks and services instead of the fading networks of the past.
  • Business Data Services: In order to incentivize investment in modern fiber networks, the FCC updated rules for high-speed, dedicated services by lifting rate regulation where appropriate.
  • Supply Chain Integrity: The FCC adopted a rule banning the use of taxpayer dollars (in the USF programs) from being used to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a national security threat to the integrity of American communications networks or the communications supply chain.

Other Actions

Merger Approved to Promote 5G Deployment: The FCC approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint that will help to close the digital divide by bringing robust 5G deep into rural areas, with enforceable conditions requiring deployment of 5G network coverage to 99% of all Americans within six years. Also, DISH Network acquired Boost Mobile when it was divested as part of the T-Mobile transaction. DISH has committed to use its acquisition of Boost Mobile, along with 5G infrastructure investments, to deploy a competitive 5G wireless service using its long-held spectrum licenses.

5G Open Radio Access Networks: The FCC’s Forum on 5G Open Radio Access Networks featured experts at the vanguard of the development and deployment of 5G network architecture. Open, interoperable, standards-based, and virtualized radio access networks offer an alternative to traditional cellular network architecture and could enable a diversity in suppliers, better network security, and lower costs.

Innovation Zones: The FCC created its first two Innovation Zones, city-scale test beds for advanced wireless communications and network research, including 5G networks.

 

 

Rulemakings & Public Notices

February 3, 2020 - Public Notice
Docket Announced for Establishing a 5G Fund for Rural America

January 27, 2020 - Public Notice
Full Commercial Deployments Authorized for the 3.5 GHz Band

December 17, 2019 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Seeks to Promote Innovation in the 5.9 GHz Band

December 16, 2019 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Considers Facilitating Shared Use in the 3.1-3.55 GHz Band

November 26, 2019 - Report and Order
Protecting National Security Through FCC Programs

April 29, 2019 - Public Notice
WTB/OET Approve Environmental Sensing Capabilities (ESCs) for 3.5 GHz

April 15, 2019 - Report and Order
FCC Takes Steps to Make Millimeter Wave Spectrum Available for 5G

February 27, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Announces Auction 102 Qualified Bidders

January 24, 2019 - Public Notice
Auction 101 Bidding Concludes

September 28, 2018 - Plan
FCC's 5G FAST Plan

August 3, 2018 - Public Notice
FCC Establishes Procedures for First 5G Spectrum Auctions

August 3, 2018 - FNPRM
FCC Proposes Steps Towards Auction of 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz Bands

July 13, 2018 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order
FCC Expands Flexible Use of Mid-band Spectrum

April 17, 2018 - Public Notice
Spectrum Frontiers Auction Comment PN

March 30, 2018 - Report and Order
FCC Acts to Speed Deployment of Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure

March 1, 2018 - Public Draft
Proposed Rules to Streamline Wireless Infrastructure Deployment

February 23, 2018 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Looks to Speed Introduction of Innovative Technologies & Services

February 28, 2018 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Proposes to Open Spectrum Horizons for New Services & Technologies

November 27, 2017 - Report and Order
FCC Takes Steps to Facilitate Next Generation Wireless Technologies in Spectrum Above 24 GHz

August 3, 2017 - Notice of Inquiry
Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz

October 24, 2017 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Moves to Promote Investment in the 3.5 GHz Band

April 21, 2017 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry
Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment

December 14, 2017 - Public Notice
FCC Seeks Comment on Plan to Ease Collocations on Twilight Towers

November 17, 2017 - Report and Order
FCC Streamlines Requirements for Utility Pole Replacements

April 28, 2017 - Report and Order
FCC Advances Competition, Investment in Business Data Services Market

January 4, 2018 - Declaratory Ruling, Report and Order, and Order
FCC Releases Restoring Internet Freedom Order

April 21, 2017 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Accelerating Wireline Broadband Infrastructure Deployment

 

News & Speeches

January 30, 2020 - News Release
Clock Phase Of Auction 103 Concludes

January 27, 2020 - News Release
FCC Authorizes Full Commercial Deployment in 3.5 GHz Bandon January 27, 2020 - News Release

January 27, 2020 - News Release
FCC Authorizes Full Commercial Deployment in 3.5 GHz Band

December 11, 2019 - News Release
What They're Saying About Chairman Pai's Proposed $9 Billion 5G Fund

December 10, 2019 - Statement
FCC's Next 5G Spectrum Auction is Underway

December 5, 2019 - News Release
What They're Saying About Proposal to Promote 5.9 GHz Band Innovation

December 5, 2019 - News Release
What They're Saying About Proposal to Promote 5.9 GHz Band Innovation

December 4, 2019 - News Release
Pai Announces Plan to Launch $9 Billion 5G Fund for Rural America

December 2, 2019 - News Release
Chairman Pai Calls on Congress to Repeal T-Band Mandate

November 21, 2019 - News Release
Support for Pai's Plan to Protect Networks from Foreign Threats

November 20, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai's Remarks on New 5.9 GHz Band Proposal

October 28, 2019 - News Release
Chairman Pai Statement on New Rules to Protect Communications Networks

October 23, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on 3.5 GHz at the OnGo Workshop in CA

October 17, 2019 - Testimony
Chairman Pai Testimony at Oversight Hearing on Spectrum Auctions

September 16, 2019 - Public Notice
WTB & OET Approve Initial Commercial Deployments in 3.5 GHz Band

August 28, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at University of Mississippi Tech Summit

July 11, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Establishes Procedures for 5G Incentive Auction

July 11, 2019 - Report and Order
FCC Transforms 2.5 GHz Band for 5G Services

July 9, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai at Chamber Roundtable on Small Satellite Integration

July 5, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on 5G in Argentina

June 26, 2019 - Statement
Chairman Pai Statement on Ericsson Building a New U.S. Factory for 5G

June 21, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks to the New York State Wireless Association on 5G

June 12, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks to US-India Business Council Summit

June 3, 2019 - Public Notice
Auction 101 Results

June 3, 2019 - Public Notice
Auction 102 Closing Public Notice

May 28, 2019 - News Release
FCC Concludes First High-Band 5G Airwaves Auctions

May 15, 2019 - Statement
Pai Statement on Executive Order to Protect Communications Networks

May 14, 2019 - Public Notice
Updated 39 GHz Reconfiguration Procedures for Auction 103

May 9, 2019 - News Release
FCC Proposes Opening Airwaves for Mobile Services in 1675-80 MHz Band

May 2, 2019 - Speech
Prague 5G Security Conference, Prague, Czech Republic

April 30, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on 5G at National Spectrum Consortium Event

April 17, 2019 - News Release
FCC Announces Clock Phase of Auction 102 Concludes

April 12, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at 5G White House Event

April 12, 2019 - Fact Sheet
Chairman Pai's 5G Auction & Rural Digital Opportunity Proposals

April 12, 2019 - News Release
FCC Seeks Comment on Bidding Procedures for Third 5G Spectrum Auction

April 12, 2019 - News Release
FCC Takes Steps to Make Millimeter Wave Spectrum Available for 5G

February 27, 2019 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on 5G at MWC Latin American Roundtable

January 24, 2019 - Statement
Chairman Pai Statement on Conclusion of First U.S. 5G Spectrum Auction

December 12, 2018 - News Release
FCC Adopts Rules for Major 2019 5G Incentive Auction

November 21, 2018 - News Release
Adopting Rules for a 5G Incentive Auction

November 21, 2018 - Public Draft
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for December Open Meeting

November 14, 2018 - News Release
Chairman Pai on Start of 5G Spectrum Auction

October 23, 2018 - News Release
FCC Proposes More Spectrum for Unlicensed Use

October 23, 2018 - News Release
FCC Acts to Increase Investment and Deployment in 3.5 GHz Band

October 3, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai on 5G at Americas Spectrum Management Conference

September 28, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at White House 5G Summit

September 26, 2018 - News Release
FCC Streamlines Deployment of Next Generation Wireless Infrastructure

September 24, 2018 - News Release
Local Government Support Builds for Carr's 5G Order

September 13, 2018 - News Release
Carr to Visit Arizona for 5G Events with Mayor and State Lawmaker

September 5, 2018 - News Release
Economists: Carr's 5G Order Saves $2B, Stimulates $2.4B Investment

September 4, 2018 - News Release
Carr Announces Next 5G Order in Indiana Statehouse Speech

September 4, 2018 - Speech
Carr Speech in Indianapolis, 'Grassroots Leadership on 5G'

August 2, 2018 - News Release
FCC Speeds Access to Utility Poles to Promote Broadband, 5G Deployment

August 1, 2018 - News Release
What They're Saying: Chairman Pai's One-Touch Make-Ready Proposal

June 7, 2018 - News Release
FCC Takes Next Steps to Open Spectrum Frontiers for 5G Connectivity

May 23, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai's Wireless Infrastructure Assoc. Connectivity Expo Speech

May 16, 2018 - Editorial
Florida is on the leading edge of 5G

May 10, 2018 - News Release
FCC Seeks to Transform 2.5 GHz Band for NextGen 5G Connectivity

February 26, 2018 - Speech
Remarks of Chairman Pai at the Mobile World Congress 2018

Jun 14, 2017 - Public Notice
Incentive Auction Task Force and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Grants 600 MHz Licenses

January 31, 2017 - News Release
Chairman Pai Forms Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

February 28, 2018 - Speech
Remarks of Commissioner Brendan Carr to Ensure the US is 5G Ready

June 21, 2017 - Editorial
Chairman Pai Op-ed: How the U.S. can win the digital future

April 21, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai Opens First Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Meeting

Apr 6, 2017 - News Release
Chairman Pai Announces Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Members

November 21, 2017 - Editorial
Chairman Pai Op-ed: How the FCC Can Save the Open Internet

January 4, 2018 - Statement
Chairman Pai Statement on Restoring Internet Freedom

April 26, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai Speech on the Future of Internet Regulation

April 28, 2017 - Statement
Chairman Pai Statement on Business Data Services

February 28, 2017 - Speech
Chairman Pai's Keynote Address to Mobile World Congress 2017

 

Keep Americans Connected

Chairman Pai Archive: Keep Americans Connected

 
Keep Americans Connected logo

Keep Americans Connected Pledge

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges that many Americans have faced, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative on March 13, 2020 and extended it to June 30, 2020. In order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of these exceptional circumstances, he specifically asked broadband and telephone service providers, and trade associations, to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. More than 800 companies and associations signed the Chairman's pledge, which read as follows:

Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, [[Company Name]] pledges to:

  1. not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
  2. waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  3. open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

Chairman Pai also urged companies with low-income broadband programs to expand and improve them and those without them to adopt such programs. He called on broadband providers to relax their data usage limits in appropriate circumstances and take steps to promote remote learning and telehealth. See the list of companies that went above & beyond and additional steps they have taken.

More Ways the FCC is Keeping Americans Connected

  • COVID-19 Telehealth Program: On April 2, the FCC established a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the pandemic. Congress appropriated the funds as part of the CARES Act. The Program will provide immediate support to eligible health care providers responding to the pandemic by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services. To learn more visit fcc.gov/covid19telehealth.
  • Promoting Remote Learning with the Department of Education: The FCC and the Department of Education worked to promote the use of $16 billion in funding from the CARES Act’s Education Stabilization Fund for remote learning. Through the effort, the agencies worked with governors, states, and local school districts as they leverage funding to best help students learning from home during COVID-19. See our state-by-state webpage for information on service providers that have signed the Keep Americans Connected pledge and may be able to provide connectivity and devices to schools seeking to use CARES Act funding for remote learning.
  • Addressing the Digital Divide with the Institute of Museum and Library Services: The FCC worked with the Institute of Museum and Library Services to promote the use of $50 million in CARES Act funding to help address the digital divide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The agencies teamed up to raise awareness of these funds among libraries and Tribal organizations, which use them to increase broadband access in their communities. See our state-by-state webpage for information on service providers that have signed the Keep Americans Connected pledge and may be able to provide connectivity and devices to libraries and Tribal organizations seeking to use CARES Act funding.
  • Granting Providers Additional Spectrum to Support Increased Broadband Usage: The FCC granted temporary authority to a number of wireless companies to use additional spectrum in order to ensure that they were able to meet their customers’ needs. It granted Special Temporary Authority to allow 33 wireless Internet service providers in rural communities as well as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and others to use additional spectrum to help meet increased customer demand for broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Connectivity on Tribal Reservations: The FCC granted access to 2.5 GHz spectrum for the A:SHIWI College & Career Readiness Center to provide broadband service to the Zuni tribe in New Mexico. The FCC also granted an STA to the Navajo Nation to use unassigned spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band to provide wireless broadband service over its reservation, which is located within parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
  • Helping Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Stay Connected: The FCC granted AT&T temporary access to use additional spectrum to serve Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands during the pandemic. The Commission under Chairman Pai placed a special emphasis on connectivity on the islands following the devastating storms that hit them in recent years.
  • Supporting Telehealth and Remote Learning by Waiving Gift Rules: The FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care and E-Rate programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning efforts during the pandemic. The waiver allowed healthcare providers, schools, and libraries to accept improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gear, or other equipment or services to support doctors and patients, teachers and students, and librarians and patrons during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Increasing Rural Health Care Funding: The FCC adopted an Order to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the current funding year with an additional $42.19 million. This action helped ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need to promote telehealth solutions for patients during this outbreak. In addition, a March 26 order took a number of actions to assist Program participants, including extending the application window until June 30, 2020, among other administrative deadlines.
  • Waiving Lifeline Program Rules to Help Low-Income Consumers: The FCC took action to help ensure that no current Lifeline subscribers are involuntarily removed from the Lifeline program during the coronavirus pandemic by waiving several rules that could otherwise result in de-enrollment of subscribers. The FCC also waived Lifeline program rules to assist program participants potentially affected by the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and aid community efforts to slow its spread.
  • Zoom and WebEx Regulatory Relief: The FCC issued a temporary waiver of its access arbitrage rules to Inteliquent, a telecommunications company that carries traffic for two of the nation’s largest conference calling providers, Zoom Video Communications and Cisco WebEx. The massive increase in conference calls made by consumers using Zoom and WebEx to work and attend classes from home during the COVID-19 pandemic would have likely resulted in Inteliquent being deemed an “access-stimulating” carrier under the FCC’s rules.
  • Enabling Interpreters to Work From Home to Maintain Services for Disability Community: The FCC granted Telecommunications Relay Service providers temporary waivers to better enable American Sign Language interpreters to work from home in order to maintain relay services during the current coronavirus pandemic for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind, or have a speech disability.
  • Broadcasters Keeping America Informed: Chairman Pai thanked radio and television broadcasters for their tireless efforts during the coronavirus outbreak, including running public service announcements on social distancing, airing educational programming to help with distance learning, expanding COVID-19 reporting, and holding fundraisers to help those who have faced financial hardship due to the virus. Also, on a March 16 call with broadcasters, he asked broadcasters to work with cable and satellite operators to avoid service disruptions during the next 60 days.
  • Supporting Consumers: The FCC worked to keep Americans informed about the latest COVID-19 phone and text based scams. Learn more and hear scam audio. In addition, the FCC issued a consumer alert that provides tips to consumers to help them optimize their home networks during the pandemic.
  • Incentive Auction Transition Guidance: On March 17, the FCC announced that it would provide broadcasters with appropriate flexibility to address disruptions and issued guidance for stations in Phase 9 of the post-Incentive Auction transition.

Learn more about additional FCC efforts to address COVID-19 at fcc.gov/coronavirus.

Releases

July 8, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Final Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

July 1, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves 13th Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

June 26, 2020 - Order
FCC Extends Waiver of Sponsorship ID Requirements for COVID-19 PSAs

June 24, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Twelfth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

June 19, 2020 - News Release
FCC Chairman Urges Congress to Help Consumers Stay Connected

June 17, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Eleventh Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

June 10, 2020 - News Release
FCC Surpasses $100 Million in Approved COVID-19 Program Applications

June 3, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Ninth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

June 2, 2020 - News Release
FCC Boosts Wireless Broadband for Rural Kentucky

June 1, 2020 - Letter
FCC Partners with NARUC to Raise Lifeline Awareness During COVID-19

June 1, 2020 - News Release
FCC Streamlines Lifeline Process for Tribal Consumers

May 29, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants Makah Tribe Spectrum Access for Broadband During Pandemic

May 28, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Eighth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

May 20, 2020 - News Release
FCC, FTC Demand Robocall-Enabling Service Providers Cut Off Scammers

May 20, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Seventh Set Of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

May 14, 2020 - News Release
Broadband, Telephone Providers Extend Keep Americans Connected Pledge

May 14, 2020 - News Release
FCC Extends Temporary Waivers For Relay Services Rules During Pandemic

May 13, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Sixth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

May 6, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Fifth Set Of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

May 4, 2020 - Order
FCC Makes It Easier for Companies to Rehire Laid Off Employees

May 4, 2020 - News Release
5.9 GHz Band Boosts Consumer Internet Access During Covid-19 Pandemic

April 30, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Extends Keep Americans Connected Pledge Through June 30

April 29, 2020 - News Release
FCC Eases Lifeline Process for Unemployed Americans During Pandemic

April 29, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Fourth Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

April 27, 2020 - News Release
FCC and U.S. Department of Education Promote Remote Education

April 23, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Third Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

April 21, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Second Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

April 21, 2020 - Public Notice
Waiver of the Red Light Rule for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program

April 17, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants Navajo Nation Temporary Spectrum Access During Pandemic

April 17, 2020 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks on Regulation in Times of Pandemics

April 16, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves First Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

April 16, 2020 - Public Notice
FCC Tasks BDAC Working Group With Addressing COVID-19 Challenges

April 10, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants NYC Fire Department Spectrum Access During Pandemic

April 10, 2020 - Public Notice
Public Safety Licensee Guidance on COVID-19 STA and Waiver Requests

April 10, 2020 - News Release
FCC Enables Rapid Cell Site Deployment for Wisconsin COVID-19 Facility

April 10, 2020 - News Release
FCC's COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Portal Opens on Monday

April 9, 2020 - News Release
FCC Provides TV Stations Flexibility to Air Local Community Events

April 8, 2020 - Public Notice
Guidance on the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Process

April 6, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Thanks Broadcasters for Their Response to COVID-19

April 2, 2020 - Report and Order
FCC Fights COVID-19 with $200M; Adopts Long-Term Connected Care Study

April 2, 2020 - News Release
Chmn Pai Hears Update from Broadband and Telephone Service Providers

April 1, 2020 - News Release
FCC Enables Rural Broadband Providers to Waive Consumer Fees

April 1, 2020 - News Release
FCC Extends Key E-Rate Program Deadlines Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

April 1, 2020 - Public Notice
WTB Issues STA and Waiver Filing Guide

March 30, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Announces Plan for $200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program

March 30, 2020 - News Release
FCC Acts to Keep Lifeline Subscribers Connected During COVID-19

March 27, 2020 - News Release
Home Network Tips for the Coronavirus Pandemic

March 27, 2020 - News Release
FCC Ensures Americans Can Access Zoom and WebEx During COVID-19 Crisis

March 27, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants WISPs Temporary 5.9 GHz Spectrum Access for Rural Broadband

March 26, 2020 - News Release
FCC Provides Relief for Rural Health Care Program Participants

March 25, 2020 - News Release
FCC's Keep Americans Connected Pledge Surpasses 500 Signatures

March 24, 2020 - Blog Post
Stepping Up to the Coronavirus Challenge - FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

March 20, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants AT&T and Verizon Temporary Spectrum Access During Pandemic

March 20, 2020 - Consumer Advisory
FCC Warns of COVID-19 Robocall & Text Scams

March 19, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Welcomes More Keep Americans Connected Pledge Signers

March 19, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants Deadline Extension for Certain 3650-3700 MHz Licensees

March 18, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants Verizon Temporary Spectrum Access During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 18, 2020 - News Release
FCC Acts to Support Telehealth & Remote Learning During Coronavirus

March 18, 2020 - Order
FCC Waives RHC and E-Rate Gift Rules Due to COVID-19

March 18, 2020 - News Release
FCC Chairman Thanks Companies Going Above and Beyond Pledge

March 17, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants US Cellular Temporary Spectrum Access During Coronavirus

March 17, 2020 - News Release
FCC Waives Lifeline Rules to Help Keep Low-Income Consumers Connected

March 17, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Commends Broadcasters' Coronavirus Response

March 17, 2020 - Public Notice
Guidance for Stations in Phase 9 of the Post-Incentive Auction

March 16, 2020 - News Release
More Providers Take Chairman Pai's Keep Americans Connected Pledge

March 16, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants Flexibility to TRS Providers During Coronavirus

March 16, 2020 - Order
FCC Grants Temporary Waiver of Certain TRS Rules During Coronavirus

March 15, 2020 - News Release
FCC Grants T-Mobile Temporary Spectrum Access During Coronavirus

March 13, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Welcomes Increase in Rural Health Care Funding

March 13, 2020 - Public Notice
WCB Extends E-Rate Application Filing Window for FY20 Due to COVID-19

March 13, 2020 - News Release
Chairman Pai Launches the Keep Americans Connected Pledge

 

Restoring Internet Freedom

Chairman Pai Archive: Restoring Internet Freedom

The FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which took effect on June 11, 2018, provides a framework for protecting an open Internet while paving the way for better, faster and cheaper Internet access for consumers. It replaces unnecessary, heavy-handed regulations that were developed way back in 1934 with strong consumer protections, increased transparency, and common-sense rules that will promote investment and broadband deployment. The FCC's framework for protecting Internet freedom has three key parts:

  1. Consumer Protection

    The Federal Trade Commission will police and take action against Internet service providers for anticompetitive acts or unfair and deceptive practices. The FTC is the nation's premier consumer protection agency, and until the FCC stripped it of jurisdiction over Internet service providers in 2015, the FTC protected consumers consistently across the Internet economy.

  2. Transparency

    A critical part of Internet openness involves Internet service providers being transparent about their business practices. That's why the FCC has imposed enhanced transparency requirements. Internet service providers must publicly disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of service. These disclosures must be made via a publicly available, easily accessible company website or through the FCC's website. This will discourage harmful practices and help regulators target any problematic conduct.

    These disclosures also support innovation, investment, and competition by ensuring that entrepreneurs and other small businesses have the technical information necessary to create and maintain online content, applications, services, and devices.

    Internet Service Providers must clearly disclose their network management practices on their own web sites or with the FCC. For more information about these disclosures, you can visit https://www.fcc.gov/isp-disclosures.

  3. Removes Unnecessary Regulations to Promote Broadband Investment

    The Internet wasn't broken in 2015, when the previous FCC imposed 1930s-era regulations (known as "Title II") on Internet service providers. And ironically, these regulations made things worse by limiting investment in high-speed networks and slowing broadband deployment. Under Title II, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6% -- the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. The effect was particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers—fixed wireless companies, small-town cable operators, municipal broadband providers, electric cooperatives, and others—that don't have the resources or lawyers to navigate a thicket of complex rules. Removing these outdated and unnecessary regulations will create a strong incentive for companies to pour resources into building better online infrastructure across the country and bringing faster, better, and cheaper Internet access to more Americans.

 
"I strongly believe in a free and open Internet. Our rules will ensure that we have a free and open Internet, and Americans will have access to better, faster, and cheaper broadband."
– FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

 

Robocalls

Chairman Pai Archive: Fighting Robocalls & Spoofing

The FCC has worked to, as Chairman Pai says, "combat the robocall scourge." He made combatting unlawful robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing his top consumer protection priority. By proposing and implementing impactful policy initiatives and pursuing strong enforcement actions, the FCC took a bold stand to protect and empower consumers.

A Top Priority

Unwanted calls are far and away the biggest consumer complaint to the FCC with over 200,000 complaints each year—around 60 percent of all the complaints we receive. Some private analyses estimate that U.S. consumers received nearly 4 billion robocalls per month in 2018. Unfortunately, advancements in technology make it cheap and easy to make massive numbers of robocalls and to "spoof" caller ID information to hide a caller's true identity.

Chairman Pai and other FCC staff get these calls too. He wrote in USA Today: "I hate robocalls as much as you do. I get them myself on my mobile phone, I hear about them from my family and friends, and I know that consumers want to reclaim their sanity."

The FCC knows that these calls are a major concern of millions of Americans, and scam calls in particular can result in very real financial losses and serious consumer frustration. The agency is therefore committed to using every tool in our tool box and working closely with private, public, and international partners to combat unlawful robocalls and spoofing. These efforts are outlined in the FCC's first ever report on illegal robocalls.

FCC Action

Chairman Pai implemented policies and actions to help combat unlawful robocalls and malicious caller ID spoofing. The Commission under his leadership took unprecedented enforcement actions to punish those who flout consumer protection laws.

Call-Blocking Rules: In June 2019, the FCC ruled that phone companies may, as a default, aggressively block unwanted robocalls before they reach consumers. The Commission also made clear that carriers could offer consumers the choice to opt-in to more advanced tools like basing blocking on their contact lists. These actions followed the 2017 adoption of new rules allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that appear to be from telephone numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls, without running afoul of the FCC's call completion policies.

Caller ID Authentication: Call authentication is critical for protecting consumers against spoofed robocalls where scammers mask their identity, harass consumers, and seek to defraud vulnerable communities. Caller ID authentication, based on so-called STIR/SHAKEN standards, will ensure that voice providers are exchanging accurate information about the source of calls traveling across their networks. Following FCC-prompted progress toward implementation by the industry, Chairman Pai has demanded that the major carriers adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing and implement that system in 2019. In June 2019, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which positions the agency to mandate the implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework if the end-of-the-year deadline isn't met. This will allow the FCC to move directly to final rules if industry doesn't get the job done. The Chairman also convened a summit in July 2019 to check in on industry progress toward this goal.

Reducing Unwanted Calls to Reassigned Numbers: The FCC wants to reduce unwanted calls to reassigned numbers. When a consumer gets a new phone number, he or she may receive unwanted calls intended for the consumer that previously held that number. Today, legitimate callers, such as businesses, often lack the information they need to learn about phone number reassignments and avoid calling reassigned numbers. To confront this problem, the FCC adopted new rules to create a reassigned numbers database that will reduce the number of unwanted phone calls Americans receive.

Major Fines Against Spoofers: During Chairman Pai's tenure leading the FCC, the agency has taken first-of-their-kind enforcement actions totaling over $240 million against three telemarketers for apparent illegal caller ID spoofing—including so-called neighbor spoofing, where calls appear to be from local callers. These included the largest FCC fine ever imposed against a Florida-based time-share marketing operation, an $82 million fine against a North Carolina-based health insurance telemarketer, and a $37.5 million fine of an Arizona marketer which apparently made millions of spoofed calls that appear to come from consumers. To supplement existing efforts to trace scam calls, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau also works with an industry group which shares information among carriers and providers to help "traceback" the traffic of illegal calls to the originating provider. FCC officials have also called on non-participating providers to join this effort.

Robotexts: The FCC has made clear that wireless providers are authorized to take measures to stop unwanted text messaging through robotext-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features, a decision that had bipartisan support from many state attorneys general. In August 2019, the FCC adopted new rules to include text messaging under its prohibition against anyone from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information ("spoofing") with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.

Other Tools: The FCC continues to support efforts by phone companies and third-party providers to empower consumers with effective robocall blocking tools. The agency has also worked with its international counterparts to find ways to combat scam calls originating from overseas. And the Commission continues to issue consumer alerts, work with consumer groups, and use social media to raise consumer awareness of best practices to protect themselves (see consumer tips below).

Consumer Tips

Incoming Call on Smart Phone Screen
  • Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.
  • If the caller claims to be from a legitimate company or organization, hang up and call them back using a valid number found on their website or on your latest bill if you do business with them.
  • If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to press a button to stop receiving calls, or asks you to say "yes" in response to a question, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents, or to use your "yes" to apply unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Be Aware: Caller ID showing a "local" number no longer means it is necessarily a local caller.
  • If you answer and the caller asks for payment using a gift card, it's likely a scam. Legitimate organizations like law enforcement will not ask for payment with a gift card.
  • If you receive a scam call, file a complaint with the FCC Consumer Complaint Center by selecting the "phone" option and selecting "unwanted calls." The data we collect helps us track trends and supports our enforcement investigations.
  • If you have lost money because of a scam call, contact your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • Ask your phone company if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage them to offer one. You can also visit the FCC's website for more information about illegal robocalls and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls.
  • Consider registering your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry. Lawful telemarketers use this list to avoid calling consumers on the list.

 

Incentive Auction

Chairman Pai Archive: Broadcast Incentive Auction and Post-Auction Transition

Broadcast Incentive Auction  and Post-Auction Transition
Incentive Auction Splash Image - picture of a cell tower and tree

A Groundbreaking Auction to Realign Use of the Public’s Airwaves

On March 29, 2016, the FCC commenced the first-ever “incentive auction” designed to repurpose spectrum for new uses. Authorized by Congress in 2012, the auction used market forces to align the use of broadcast airwaves with 21st century consumer demands for video and broadband services.

The auction preserves a robust broadcast TV industry while enabling stations to generate additional revenues that they can invest into programming and services to the communities they serve. And by making valuable “low-band” airwaves available for wireless broadband, the incentive auction will benefit consumers by easing congestion on wireless networks, laying the groundwork for “fifth generation” (5G) wireless services and applications, and spurring job creation and economic growth.

Auction Results

Bidding in the auction closed on March 30, 2017, repurposing 84 megahertz of spectrum – 70 megahertz for licensed use and another 14 megahertz for wireless microphones and unlicensed use. The auction yielded $19.8 billion in revenue, including $10.05 billion for winning broadcast bidders and more than $7 billion to be deposited to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.

What’s Next?

On April 13, 2017 the Commission released a public notice formally closing the auction and beginning the 39-month period during which time some TV stations will need to transition to new channel assignments. This website offers details on how the transition works and how it will impact viewers as well as resources for TV stations, winners of new mobile wireless licenses, and other stakeholders. The Commission will update the site as new information becomes available.

 

Telehealth

Chairman Pai Archive: Connecting Americans to Health Care

Nowhere is bridging the digital divide more critical than in the area of health care. Today, whether it's through remote patient monitoring or mobile health applications accessed via smartphones, tablets, or other devices, advances in broadband-enabled health technologies are allowing patients to receive care wherever they are located. These connected care services can lead to better health outcomes and significant cost savings for patients and health care providers alike.

However, many low-income consumers, particularly those living in rural areas, lack access to affordable broadband and might not be able to realize these benefits. "While the benefits of digital health care are clear, we've been too slow to embrace its potential," wrote FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and former Kennedy-Administration FCC Chairman Newt Minow in the Boston Globe. This is why Chairman Pai has made this a core part of his work at the FCC and has led the agency toward addressing this challenge in a number of ways.

 
"Technologies that are available right now can dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for millions of Americans. Getting everybody connected and promoting adoption of current tools by both doctors and patients would be a game-changer." – FCC Chairman Pai

Connecting to Health Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The FCC has implemented a number of initiatives to help keep Americans connected to critical health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • COVID-19 Telehealth Program: The FCC established a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the pandemic. The program provided immediate support to eligible health care providers responding to the pandemic by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and a wide array of devices necessary to provide critical connected care services. Since the beginning of the program, the agency approved 539 funding applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding—the amount of money provided by Congress in the CARES Act. To learn more and to view a list of approved applicants, visit fcc.gov/covid19telehealth.
  • Supporting Telehealth by Waiving Gift Rules: The FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth during the pandemic. The waiver will allow healthcare providers to accept improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gear, or other equipment or services to support doctors and patients during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Increasing Rural Health Care Funding: The FCC adopted an Order to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the current funding year with an additional $42.19 million. This action will help ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need to promote telehealth solutions for patients during this outbreak. In addition, a June 30 Public Notice announced that up to $197.98 Million in unused funds from prior funding years will be available for Funding Year 2020.
  • Grant Healthcare Waiver Requests: The FCC has granted waivers to GE Healthcare, to expedite medical equipment such as wearable patient monitors, diagnostic testing systems, and portable x-rays from new suppliers during the pandemic, and to MIT to permit certification and marketing of the WiTrack system for remote patient monitoring. 

Support for Telehealth

Ensuring that rural health care providers have access to broadband and telephone service at rates comparable to those paid by urban providers is a core mission of the FCC. The agency is also looking for new ways to boost telehealth efforts and maintains a dedicated team focused exclusively on connectivity and health care.

  • Rural Health Care Program: Boosted funding for the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program from $400 million in 2017 by 43% and implemented automatic budget adjustments and allowed funds unused from prior years to be carried forward; acted to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the funding year 2019 with an additional $42.19 million; for the 2020 funding year, announced the Commission would carry forward up to $197.98 million in unused funds to provide $802.7 million to meet growing demand for telehealth in rural America.
  • Connected Care Pilot Program: Working with Commissioner Carr, the Chairman presented final rules to stand up a broader, longer-term Connected Care Pilot Program.  It will study how connected care could be a permanent part of the Universal Service Fund by making available up to $100 million of universal service support over three years to help defray eligible health care providers’ costs of providing telehealth services to patients at their homes or mobile locations, with an emphasis on providing those services to low-income Americans and veterans. The application window will open on November 6, 2020 at 12:00 pm ET and close on December 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Rural Telehealth Initiative: In August 2020, the FCC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on the Rural Telehealth Initiative, a joint effort to collaborate and share information to address health disparities, resolve service provider challenges, and promote broadband services and technology to rural areas in America. As part of this MOU, the agencies intend to establish an interagency Rural Telehealth Initiative Task Force comprised of representatives from each agency. This Task Force will regularly meet to consider future recommendations or guidelines for this effort and exchange agency expertise, scientific and technical information, data, and publications.
  • Connect2HealthFCC Task Force: The Connect2HealthFCC Task Force is exploring the intersection of broadband, advanced technology and health, engaging with a wide array of stakeholders, and further charting the broadband future of health care—serving as an umbrella for all FCC health-oriented activities to help enable a healthier America. Among its projects, the Task Force has led the Commission's work on Mapping Broadband Health in America, a first-of-its-kind platform allowing users to interactively visualize, overlay and analyze broadband and health data at the national, state, and county levels, and enabling detailed study of the intersection between connectivity and health.
  • Wireless Medical Telemetry: Monitoring patients at a distance relies on wireless technology. The FCC, in its role of ensuring the best use of America’s wireless airwaves, ensures that these vital health services have access to the spectrum needed to avoid interference. This protects the operations of life-saving devices like those that measure patients' vital signs or transport the data via a radio link to another location within a health care facility, like a nurses' station equipped with a specialized radio receiver.
  • Enforcement: The FCC proposed an $18.7 million fine for apparent violations of the FCC's competitive bidding rules for the Rural Health Care Program and for using forged, false, misleading, and unsubstantiated documents to improperly seek funding from the Universal Service Fund.

Engagement & Partnerships

The FCC is actively engaging with the broader health care community, including providers, innovators, researchers, patients and caregivers, to find ways to help connect more Americans to life-saving services.

  • Remote Health Care for Veterans – Chairman Pai has personally visited numerous health facilities serving veterans living in rural areas. He visited the Providence VA Medical Center where he heard how telehealth is providing veterans across the country with access to treatment for conditions like PTSD and allowing dermatologists to save lives through quicker, more accurate diagnoses. He visited the Lecanto Community Based Outpatient Clinic, which is using the Internet and telehealth innovations to improve the lives of veterans in North Florida. And he visited the VA TeleMental Hub in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the team demonstrated their telemental health video platform and introduced him over video to a patient in Paradise, Texas, who credited the Utah VA unit with helping him lose 80 pounds and get off blood pressure medication for the first time in 15 years.
  • Telehealth Hubs – Chairman Pai visited the Cleveland Clinic, which is using telemedicine to dramatically shorten the time it takes to assess and stabilize stroke patients. He visited St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado to learn how it utilizes a telehealth van equipped with diagnostic equipment and a video screen to talk to doctors or relay test results directly to the hospital. And he visited Mirasol Family Health Clinic in Hermiston, Oregon with House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden to talk about the benefits of telehealth.
  • Broadband and Cancer Collaboration for Appalachia – Led by its Connect2HealthFCC Task Force, the FCC is also working with the National Cancer Institute, University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, and other stakeholders to study how increased connectivity in Appalachia can help address the burden of symptom management for cancer patients in rural and underserved areas.

News

November 5, 2020 - News Release
FCC's Connected Care Pilot Program Application Window to Open on November 6

September 3, 2020 - News Release
FCC Provides Information, Guidance on Connected Care Pilot Program

September 1, 2020 - News Release
FCC, HHS, and USDA Team Up for Rural Telehealth Initiative

July 8, 2020 - News Release
FCC Approves Final Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

June 30, 2020 - News Release
FCC Announces Increase in Rural Health Care Program Funds for FY 2020

June 10, 2020 - News Release
FCC Surpasses $100 Million in Approved COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

March 31, 2020 - News Release
FCC Fights COVID-19 with $200M; Adopts Long-Term Connected Care Study

August 1, 2019 - News Release
FCC Strengthens Rural Health Care Program

July 10, 2019 - News Release
FCC Proposes $100 Million Connected Care Pilot Telehealth Program

June 19, 2019 - News Release
Carr Advances $100 Million Telehealth Initiative at Appalachia Event

December 6, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai Remarks at VA Telehealth Summit

October 18, 2018 - Speech
Chairman Pai Discusses FCC's Telehealth Work at Boston Conference

 

 

Updated: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021