Connect Americans Now (CAN): Questions for the Confirmation Hearing of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Rosenworcel

Hearing Provides Lawmakers and Nominee a Key Opportunity to Discuss Urgent Solutions to Permanently Bridge the Digital Divide

Press Release
November 17, 2021
Contact: Jon Conradi
[email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Today, Wednesday, November 17, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as Permanent Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Connect Americans Now (CAN) executive director Richard T. Cullen released the following statement ahead of the confirmation hearing.

“The Federal Communications Commission plays a critical role in expanding access to affordable, reliable broadband and supporting greater digital equity,” Cullen said. “CAN commends Chairwoman Rosenworcel for her demonstrated commitment to closing the broadband gap and record of leadership on improving digital equity.”

“We encourage Chairwoman Rosenworcel and lawmakers to capitalize on this confirmation hearing as an opportunity to discuss ways Congress and the FCC can work together to implement solutions to help permanently bridge the digital divide in America,” Cullen continued. “The FCC must play a lead role in the successful implementation of programs to support broadband adoption in underserved communities, deploy broadband in unserved areas and fix the nation’s tracking of progress against the digital divide through accurate maps.”

Key questions for Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel include:

  • The FCC plays a critical leadership role in the implementation of solutions to close the broadband gap in the United States. If confirmed, how will you approach the vital national mission of permanently eliminating the digital divide as Permanent Chairwoman and what principles would guide your approach to the programs and tools available at the FCC that can expand broadband deployment, adoption and skills trainings?
  • As many as 17 million American students, nearly one-third of all public school students, live in a household without the broadband service, a device, or both, needed to complete schoolwork or homework requiring an internet connection.
    • You’ve been a leader on highlighting the urgency to close the homework gap. If confirmed, what can the FCC do to help ensure students in every community have access to the connectivity and devices needed to succeed in the 21st century classroom?
  • More than 75 percent of Americans say they would like to use telehealth services in the future, but Americans without broadband access are being left behind without access to these tools that can increase access to care, improve health care outcomes and enhance quality of life.
    • Among other initiatives, the FCC has implemented the COVID-19 Telehealth Program that provides $200 million in funding to help providers reach more patients in their homes. What more can Congress and the FCC do to ensure all Americans — specifically those in underserved communities — can access telehealth tools?
  • During your time as Acting Chairwoman, Congress authorized, and the FCC implemented the Emergency Broadband Benefit Fund which has helped more than six million households afford broadband service during the pandemic.
    • Do you agree the demand for this program demonstrates the vital need for adoption programs to ensure Americans can afford broadband service and digital devices in every community?
    • This program was permanently authorized in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden this week. Can you discuss how the FCC will implement this permanent program and what learnings from the emergency authorization will be applied to help the greatest number of Americans get connected?
  • The FCC continues to work on more accurate and comprehensive broadband mapping, authorized by Congress through the bipartisan Broadband DATA Act, to better track the nation’s progress against the digital divide.
    • Do you agree accurate mapping of the digital divide is vitally important to achieve a national goal of ensuring Americans in every community have access to the broadband service and digital technology needed to succeed in the 21st century economy and classroom?
    • What is the current status of the FCC’s implementation of broadband mapping solutions that will provide a better measurement of the scale of the challenge and better guide public and private investments to improve connectivity? What challenges exist and is there more Congress can do to support successful development of accurate maps?

Founded in 2017, Connect Americans Now (CAN) is a broad-based coalition of more than 300 companies and organizations representing leading voices in agriculture, education, health care, veterans’ issues, technology and small business — committed to urgent action to completely eliminate the digital divide in every American community.

Read CAN’s statement on Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s nomination by President Biden to serve as Permanent Chairwoman of the FCC HERE.

Learn more about Connect Americans Now and solutions to permanently bridge the digital divide HERE.


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