Pai Meets With Diverse Stakeholders on Digital Divide

FCC chairman seeks input on his 'Digital Empowerment' plan

FCC chairman Ajit Pai is putting his digital divide priority pledge into action. 

Pai was had his first official meeting with outside parties as chairman Wednesday morning (Jan. 25) with a diverse group of stakeholders in closing that digital divide, according to an FCC official familiar with the meeting who asked not to be identified.

Pai said in his first address to FCC officials that closing the divide would be a "core" priority of a Pai FCC.

The meeting was held with Kim Keenan of the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council, Rosa Mendoza of the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership, Carlos Gutierrez of the LGBT Technology Partnership, and Debra Berlyn of the Project to Get Older Adults OnLine (GOAL), the official said.

The chairman was said to have solicited ideas for getting broadband to all Americans. He also asked for input on proposals in his Digital Empowerment Agenda.

Among other things, Pai wants Congress to create "Gigabit Opportunity Zones" to "provide financial incentives for Internet service providers to deploy gigabit broadband services in low-income neighborhoods.  Incentivize local governments to make it easy for ISPs to deploy these networks. And offer tax incentives for startups of all kinds in order to take advantage of these networks and create jobs in these areas."

The five-step plan also includes making "dig once" a priority for transportation plans, speeding deployment on federal lands, draft and promote a model "local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-ways regulations," and reform pole-attachment rules.

"Commissioner Pai looks forward to continuing to work with these organizations and others in the days ahead to ensure that every American benefits from the promise of the digital age," the official said.

The MMTC's Keenan said of the meeting: "He is really focused on closing the digital divide. As an advocate, I feel so much pride that that it is a priority for his chairmanship."