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FCC's Chambers Focuses on Fiber for the Underserved

October 28, 2014

Broadband continues to be a focus for the FCC, as it paves the way for basic economic growth as well as innovation in arenas like real-time communications. This month, it begins taking bids for the $100 million that it has earmarked for funding fiber projects for underserved communities.

Since earlier this year, the FCC has been inviting proposals on building next-generation networks in rural America, to determine whether there is interest in constructing high-bandwidth networks in high-cost areas. Thousands of Rural Broadband Experiment proposals from rural telephone companies, rural electric co-ops, cable and wireless service providers, schools and libraries, research and education networks and communities have poured into the Commission since then.

“They are expressions by people who understand that high bandwidth services are becoming increasingly important to the future of economic development, education, health care, government services, entertainment, information, communication and creativity,” said Jonathan Chambers, chief of the Office of Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis at the FCC, in a blog on the project. “And many, such as those from telephone and electric co-ops and anchor institutions, are expressions from organizations rooted in local communities.”

Chambers is tasked with developing strategic plans to accomplish key policy objectives, like broadband expansion and spectrum availability. In a session at the Calix User Group event this week, he will be discussing this project and the regulatory regime in the U.S. today, and its impact on the broadband market. The panel, dubbed New Regulatory Opportunities for ILECs, Utilities and Cable, will cover FCC policy to create attractive overbuild opportunities for broadband providers.

Delivering a keynote address in August at the National Association of State Technology Directors Annual Conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Chambers said that he feels bullish about bringing at least 100mbps to the underserved. “Lack of broadband is a constraint to growth in rural areas,” Chambers said. “The majority of the folks who want to build fiber-to-the-home should be given the opportunity.”

He added, “I’ve seen the economics, and I think we can get there. It takes smart spending, doing it efficiently and taking advantage of those who already have infrastructure out there.”

Chambers joined the FCC in May 2012 after working, since 1995, primarily for companies in the start-up stage of their businesses in the wireless and cable television industries in the U.S. and in Europe. Over the years, he has worked in legal, regulatory, business development and strategic planning roles.

His previous government experience was with the U.S. Senate, where he worked from 1987 to 1994 for Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO) as legislative director, for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as a professional staff member, and for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation as the Republican staff director.

Chambers has a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, an MA in international affairs from Columbia University and the Harriman Institute for Soviet Studies, and a BA in economics from Yale University.

This week, Chambers also took part in Calix’s User Group Conference and spoke during a session covering new regulatory  news and opportunities for broadband providers.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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