"I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden. I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age," Ms. Rosenworcel said in a statement.
Ms. Rosenworcel’s term expired in June 2020, but she is allowed to remain on the Commission until the end of the current session of Congress, unless someone is nominated and confirmed for the seat earlier. The FCC currently has four Commissioners—two of each party—with this week’s departure of Mr. Pai.
Ms. Rosenworcel has been mentioned as a candidate to be the permanent Chair, along with Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and several others.
"In her time at the Commission, Rosenworcel has worked to promote greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability in our communications services in order to ensure that all Americans get a fair shot at 21st century success," an FCC news release said. "From fighting to protect net neutrality to ensuring access to the internet for students caught in the Homework Gap, she has been a consistent champion for connecting all. She is a leader in spectrum policy, developing new ways to support wireless services from Wi-Fi to video and the internet of things."
On spectrum issues, Ms. Rosenworcel worked with former Commissioner Mike O’Rielly to free up a portion of the 5.9 gigahertz band for unlicensed use. She also often called for the use of "carrots, rather than sticks," to encourage efficient use of federal spectrum; her specific proposals included allowing agencies to get a cut of the revenues of auctions of their spectrum, updating the Spectrum Relocation Fund, and developing a system to value federal spectrum assignments.
Ms. Rosenworcel criticized the FCC under former Chairman Ajit Pai for not being more aggressive in freeing up additional spectrum for 5G services. At other times, such as in the C-band proceeding, she disagreed about the way her Republican colleagues went about making frequencies available. She also often blasted the Trump administration for disagreements among agencies on spectrum issues.
On wireless infrastructure deployment, she complained that the Republican majority was heavy-handed in preempting localities.
Ms. Rosenworcel also has been active on public safety issues, including on 911 location-accuracy matters, and she faulted the majority when it did not act as the public safety community wanted, such as in the 4.9 GHz band proceeding. She also called for the FCC to hold hearings after disasters affecting communications systems.
Ms. Rosenworcel also criticized the Commission under Mr. Pai for not being more aggressive in responding to the sale of cellphone consumers’ data to third parties, on the use of inaccurate broadband maps, and on the agency’s robocall enforcement. And while she acknowledged Mr. Pai’s actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she argued that the FCC could have done more to meet the needs of students learning from home.
Ms. Rosenworcel, a former FCC staffer who was a legal adviser to Commissioner Michael J. Copps, first became a Commissioner in 2012. She was forced to leave in December 2016 when she was not renominated. She rejoined the Commission in 2017 after being nominated by former President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Before rejoining the Commission for her first term, she was senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
"Congratulations to my friend and colleague Jessica Rosenworcel on her designation as acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission," Mr. Starks said in a statement. "For many years, Jessica has been a passionate advocate for bringing the benefits of broadband to all Americans—particularly our children. Her designation comes at a critical juncture for the Commission, as COVID-19 has made bold action to end internet inequality more vital than ever. I look forward to working with her to close the digital divide and on the wide range of pressing issues facing the Commission."
The announcement of Ms. Rosenworcel’s Chairwoman designation drew praise today from a number of parties that follow the Commission.
"I want to extend my congratulations to Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on being named Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission," said Commissioner Brendan Carr. "She is a talented and dedicated public servant, as evidenced by her eight years of distinguished service on the FCC. I have enjoyed our time serving together at the agency, and I look forward to working with Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel."
"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. Her designation as Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an important and timely step in addressing vital public business," said Commissioner Nathan Simington. "I appreciate the Biden Administration’s dispatch in promoting continuity and its thoughtfulness in selecting such a distinguished public servant for this vital role. Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel brings deep knowledge and experience and highly informed judgment to her new position. I look forward to serving with her in the public interest."
"While we did not always agree on policy matters, I always valued our shared commitment to public service," Mr. Pai said. "Serving the American people is a tremendous honor and I wish her the best in the future."
"USTelecom congratulates Commissioner Rosenworcel on her appointment as acting chair of the FCC. Our members share her commitment to increasing broadband deployment, accessibility and equity and making America a fully connected nation. Her deep experience will ensure the FCC doesn’t skip a beat in its critical work at a time when extending connectivity to all has never been more important," said USTelecom President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Spalter.
"Throughout her tenure at the Commission, Jessica has been keenly focused on promoting policies that ensure all Americans can be connected to the internet, especially students who need access for learning from home," said NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell, who is a former FCC Chairman. "She has also championed the FCC’s action to free up unlicensed spectrum that can supercharge our Wi-Fi networks. As America continues to wrestle with the pandemic, we stand ready to work with Acting Chair Rosenworcel and the entire Commission on policies that can help our nation stay productive during this crisis while beginning the road to recovery."
Comcast Corp. Chief Legal Officer Tom Reid said, "We commend President Biden’s appointment of Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting Chair of the FCC. She has worked passionately and tirelessly on the critical issues of connecting all Americans to broadband and closing the Homework Gap, and been a leader on public safety issues and promoting balanced spectrum policy, among other issues. She has distinguished herself in her service as a Commissioner, and her knowledge of the communications industry is invaluable as the Commission tackles the digital future of communications."
"Charter congratulates Jessica Rosenworcel on her designation by President Biden to serve as Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. She has been a tireless advocate for consumers—working to close the nation’s digital divide and eliminate the Homework Gap, improving public safety communications, increasing unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi, and encouraging innovative spectrum policies. We look forward to continuing to work together to advance innovation and establish the U.S. as a connectivity leader," said Catherine Bohigian, executive vice president-government affairs for Charter Communications, Inc.
Kathy Grillo, senior vice president and deputy general counsel-public policy and government affairs for Verizon Communications, Inc., said that "President Biden's designation of Jessica Rosenworcel as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission is a smart choice. Through her many years of public service at the FCC and on Capitol Hill, Commissioner Rosenworcel has developed a deep understanding of the importance of modern communications networks to consumers and to our nation. Her passion and efforts to address the digital divide and close the homework gap are truly issues that will make a difference to millions of Americans."
Joan Marsh, AT&T, Inc.’s EVP-federal regulatory relations, said, "We look forward to working with Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as she assumes responsibility for the agency and the important tasks before her, including the management of new programs that will make broadband more accessible and affordable to all Americans."
NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said, "On behalf of NTCA’s community-based broadband providers, I want to sincerely congratulate Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel on being designated acting chairwoman of the FCC. Even prior to her joining the commission, including her senior staff leadership role on Capitol Hill, she has fought consistently to ensure that connectivity is available to everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the essential nature of quality broadband, and unfortunately highlighted as well how a lack of access to robust and affordable broadband disadvantages too many Americans still. We look forward to working with her in advancing a shared mission of comprehensive universal service."
"Commissioner Rosenworcel is a powerful voice and strong leader seeking connectivity for all Americans. We share her commitment and her special focus on the pressing need to close the homework gap," said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. "She also has a keen understanding of the importance of wireless to meeting those goals, and has championed the need for more spectrum particularly mid-band spectrum, to facilitate the continued growth and expansion of our nation’s 5G networks, bringing connectivity to more Americans, and closing the digital divide."
"Since coming to the FCC in 2012, Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel has been a forward-thinking champion of bridging the digital divide, and of expanding access to broadband through, among other means, more unlicensed spectrum," said Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. "She has a tremendous understanding of how the FCC works, deep knowledge of communications law, FCC rules and policy precedents, and is keenly aware of the needs of the various stakeholders in our multi-faceted communications industry. We look forward to working with her as she guides the FCC."
"WIA congratulates Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel on her elevation in the leadership of the FCC. She has been a tireless advocate for broadband connectivity, including closing the homework gap, the need for which has become even more apparent during the pandemic," said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. "We have worked closely together for many years since my time at the FCC, and WIA and its members have always appreciated the opportunity to work with Chairwoman Rosenworcel when she was Commissioner to find ways to expand broadband to every corner of the country. We look forward to continuing to work with her as she seeks to close the homework gap and to promote broadband deployment."
"We share her passion for closing the digital divide and look forward to working with her and the Commission to bring robust mobile wireless connectivity to all Americans," said Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association.
"Congratulations to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for being named the acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden. 5G Americas looks forward to continuing to work with the acting Chairwoman and the entire FCC on important wireless communications issues and opportunities for the U.S.," said 5G Americas President Chris Pearson.
"Connect Americans Now congratulates Commissioner Rosenworcel on being named acting chairwoman of the FCC," said Richard Cullen, executive director of Connect Americans Now. "CAN applauds Commissioner Rosenworcel’s record of commitment to tackling the digital divide, particularly her tireless advocacy on the homework gap and support for innovative solutions to expand connectivity like TV white space (TVWS) technology. We look forward to continuing to work with the acting chairwoman and the Commission to expand access to broadband to every American."
"Jessica has already etched her name in the broadband hall of fame for transforming the way schools, libraries and children access the internet, and her battle to close the homework gap has inspired a nation," said Incompas CEO Chip Pickering. "A fighter for families, competition and an open internet, Jessica is the right person, with the right experience, to help lead our nation to a better broadband recovery that brings faster speeds and lower prices to millions of American families and small businesses. This is a great honor for her and her family, and we look forward to working together."
The Internet Innovation Alliance said it "warmly congratulates Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on being named acting FCC Chair. We look forward to continuing to work closely with her to advance universal broadband and on solving the Homework Gap, among other critical national challenges."
Information Technology Industry Council President and CEO Jason Oxman said, "With her experience at the FCC dating back more than two decades, Jessica has the depth of knowledge and experience to advance communications policy for the benefit of all Americans. Her key priorities in her time at the Commission, including expanding broadband availability to all Americans, are so important for the United States’ health, recovery, and future prosperity. A thoughtful and dedicated public servant, Jessica’s leadership at the FCC could not come at a more crucial time."
GPS Innovation Alliance Executive Director David Grossman said, "The wealth of experience from her time spent as a Commissioner and Congressional staffer will enhance her leadership of the agency. We look forward to working with the Chairwoman and her colleagues in support of policies that promote, protect and enhance GPS."
"She is a dedicated and experienced public servant who has demonstrated great aptitude in leading communications policy during her tenure at the Commission. We look forward to working with her and her fellow Commissioners on regulatory policies that help local radio and TV stations serve the public interest," said Gordon Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.
"Ms. Rosenworcel has repeatedly proven her devotion to promoting the best interests of public safety," Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International Executive Director and CEO Derek Poarch said. "She has made a point to truly understand the needs of the public safety community, including through her many visits to 9-1-1 centers throughout the country. With her expertise and commitment, I am confident she will serve the country well."
"As a commissioner, Rosenworcel has challenged the Trump FCC’s worst actions and impulses," said Free Press Co-CEO Craig Aaron. "Now she must rebuild after the previous regime tried to demolish so much of the agency’s most important work. Rosenworcel’s long record of public service and deep knowledge of the issues before the FCC make her uniquely suited to fixing what has been broken at the agency over the past four years. We hope she will use the power of the office to push immediately for long-overdue changes that can improve people’s lives, create opportunities for new and diverse voices, and make the FCC an agency that’s committed to public needs rather than corporate greed."
Greg Guice, director-government affairs for Public Knowledge, said, "Over the last four years, Commissioner Rosenworcel has advocated for strong consumer rights and protections on the full range of issues before the Commission, be it broadband affordability, higher speed broadband connectivity at home, or access to innovative technologies. Additionally, Commissioner Rosenworcel has spoken about the FCC’s important role in advancing the broadband economy."
"She certainly has the requisite experience and expertise, and she understands the way the agency works as well as anyone in the country," said Free State Foundation President Randolph May. "While I’m certain that I and other Free State Foundation scholars won’t always agree with her [on] all her actions, especially those that depart meaningfully from reliance on free market tenets, I am equally certain that when we do disagree, as always, we will do so respectfully, and on the basis of principle. There’s much important work for the FCC to accomplish, and I wish Commissioner Rosenworcel well." —Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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