Senate confirms Starks, reconfirms Carr to FCC

In the waning hours of the 115th Congress, the U.S. Senate confirmed Geoffrey Starks as an FCC commissioner and reconfirmed Brendan Carr to a full term. The move brings the FCC back to a full five-seat commission, which had been split 3-1 in favor of Republicans since early 2018.

Starks, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in June, previously served as assistant bureau chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau. He is now one of two Democrats on the five-member commission. During his confirmation hearing, Starks extolled the virtues of 5G as paramount to the nation’s economy and said more spectrum bands need to be made available for 5G to fulfill its potential.

Carr, a Republican who was nominated and previously confirmed in August 2017, has now been confirmed for a full term. He’s also made 5G a central focus and served as an adviser to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai prior to his appointment to the chairmanship.

In a prepared statement, Pai said Starks “brings a wealth of experience and expertise” to the role and commended him for highlighting the need to expand rural broadband and the power of telemedicine. “I look forward to working with him and having a fellow Kansan on the Commission,” he said.

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Pai also congratulated Carr on his confirmation to a full term, calling out his “tremendous work on a number of issues, including his leadership on wireless infrastructure modernization.” Pai said Carr “has also been a staunch advocate for rural broadband deployment, particularly for precision agriculture and advancements in telemedicine.”

CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker also congratulated Carr and Starks on their confirmations. “Carr understands the importance of accelerating the deployment of next-generation networks to America’s economy and is a champion for innovation,” she said in a prepared statement. She also commended Starks “on this great step in his already distinguished career of public service.”

WifiForward, a coalition dedicated to delivering ubiquitous access to wireless broadband via unlicensed spectrum, also applauded the confirmations of Starks and Carr. The group released a statement, citing its appreciation of the work Starks has done to “promote American leadership in connectivity” and Carr’s “continued commitment to expanding digital access in this country.”