Big changes at the FCC: A conversation with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly

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Event Summary

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly visited AEI to discuss key communications policy issues before the FCC.

Commissioner O’Rielly said that 5G is a primary focus for the commission because winning the global race to 5G will allow the US to shape 5G’s future, which will boost the US economy. He explained that the FCC’s goal was to create a regulatory environment that would allow the private sector access to necessary spectrum and the ability to make necessary investments. He also discussed the need to set an overall budget across the programs of the federal universal service fund (USF) because there has been little impetus to control program spending under the current model. He outlined the need to update the FCC’s rules requiring the airing of children’s television programming and discussed FCC process reform and the improved transparency and tools for policymakers that exist as a result.

In a follow-up discussion, AEI’s Jeffrey Eisenach and Commissioner O’Rielly discussed ways to address fraud in the Lifeline program, the FCC’s processes and standards for reviewing mergers, China, and an FCC proposal to prevent USF money from being spent on communication equipment or services that are identified as national security risks.

— Matt Au

Event Description

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making big changes in US communications policy, including setting the stage for deployment of 5G wireless networks, working to ensure availability in broadband services in rural America, and paring back outdated media regulations — all while reforming its processes and structure.

Please join AEI for remarks and a discussion with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on his ideas for ensuring US leadership in 5G deployment, reforming universal service, reexamining FCC rules pertaining to children’s television — and reforming the FCC itself. A Q&A session with Commissioner O’Rielly will follow.

Join the conversation on social media by following @AEI and @AEItech on Twitter and Facebook.


1:45 PM

2:00 PM
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI

2:05 PM
Michael O’Rielly, Federal Communications Commission

2:20 PM
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI
Michael O’Rielly, Federal Communications Commission

2:35 PM

2:45 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Matt Au at [email protected], 202.862.5918.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Jeffrey Eisenach is a visiting scholar at AEI, where he focuses on telecommunications, internet regulation, and competition and policy issues in the information technology sector. Dr. Eisenach is also a managing director at NERA Economic Consulting and an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, where he teaches a course on regulated industries. Dr. Eisenach has served in a variety of senior positions at the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at Virginia Tech. He is the coauthor of “An American Strategy for Cyberspace: Advancing Freedom, Security, and Prosperity” (AEI, 2016) and has been published in Forbes, The Hill, The New York Times, and RealClearMarkets, among others. His broadcast appearances include National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” Marketplace, and Fox Business. Dr. Eisenach has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in economics from Claremont McKenna College.

Michael O’Rielly was nominated for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission by President Barack Obama on August 1, 2013, and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on October 29, 2013. He was sworn into office on November 4, 2013. On January 29, 2015, he was sworn into office for a new term, following his renomination by the president and confirmation by the United States Senate. Before joining the agency, Mr. O’Rielly served as a policy adviser in the Office of the Senate Republican Whip since January 2013. He worked in the Republican Whip’s Office since 2010, as an adviser from 2010 to 2012 and deputy chief of staff and policy director from 2012 to 2013 for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). He previously worked for the Republican Policy Committee in the US Senate as a policy analyst for banking, technology, transportation, trade, and commerce issues from 2009 to 2010. Before this, Mr. O’Rielly worked in the Office of Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), as legislative director from 2007 to 2009 and senior legislative assistant from 2003 to 2007. Before his tenure as a Senate staffer, he served as a professional staff member on the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the United States House of Representatives from 1998 to 2003 and as telecommunications policy analyst from 1995 to 1998. He began his career as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tom Bliley (R-VA) from 1994 to 1995. Mr. O’Rielly received his B.A. from the University of Rochester.

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