Senate confirms Carr, Starks for new FCC terms

The U.S. Senate over the weekend unanimously voted to confirm Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks to serve another term at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).This means the FCC will have all five seats filled for the next few years.

Carr, whose term previously ran through June 30, 2023, will serve on the Commission for an additional five years. Starks’ term ended on July 1, 2022, but since then he has remained Commissioner in an acting capacity. His new term expires on June 30, 2027.

In prepared remarks, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel congratulated Carr and Starks on their approved renominations.

“With a complete Senate-confirmed Commission, the FCC is now ready to take on our full slate of work and fulfill our commitment to ensuring Americans everywhere have access to the best, most reliable communication services in the world,” she stated.

Last month, the Senate approved Anna Gomez as the fifth FCC Commissioner, with her term set to run five years from July 1, 2021. With Gomez’s confirmation, the FCC holds a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Carr and Starks’ Senate confirmation – which occurred on the same day Congress passed a last-minute spending bill to prevent a government shutdown – comes shortly after Rosenworcel unveiled a proposal to reinstate net neutrality regulations.

Net neutrality rules are open internet protections that the FCC first adopted in 2015 but later repealed in 2017. If restored, they would enable the Commission to impose broadband regulations under Title II of the Communications Act.

Among other things, net neutrality requires ISPs to treat all internet traffic equally and not discriminate or charge differently based on the user, content, website, platform or application.

Not all of Rosenworcel’s colleagues are in favor of a net neutrality revival. Carr, a Republican, argued reinstating Title II regulations would be a mistake and the FCC’s time would be better spent on addressing other issues, like the lack of mid-band spectrum in the U.S. pipeline.

In the meantime, the broadband industry seems pleased with the Senate’s decision to reconfirm Carr and Starks.

Comcast Chief Legal Officer Tom Reid stated, “We are fortunate to have their continued leadership on issues like broadband investment and regulation and closing the digital divide that will keep our country at the top of global communications policy.”

“America’s broadband community extends its congratulations to Commissioners Starks and Carr on their reconfirmations,” said USTelecom President and CEO Jonathan Spalter. “Both have been working tirelessly toward our shared goal of connecting all to the transformative power of broadband.”

NCTA – The Internet & Television Association also congratulated both Commissioners, noting it “will continue to work with them and the entire Commission on policies that promote innovation, investment and competition in today’s modern digital marketplace.”