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Gentz: Because enough isn’t happening already, the FCC makes news

Agit Pai, Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released information on what three major initiatives the Commission is working on.

The Commission is focused on a roll-out of 5G. Pai says that, “5G will require companies to deploy hundreds of thousands of small cells (operating at lower power), and many more miles of fiber to carry all of the traffic. That’s why the FCC is working on modernizing the rules for that kind of infrastructure.

Pai continues: “We shouldn’t apply burdensome rules designed for 100-foot towers to small cells the size of a pizza box. If America is to lead the world in 5G, we need to modernize our regulations so that infrastructure can be deployed promptly and at scale.”

He also states that he has been working to make the agency more agile and responsive, stating, “Bureaucratic inertia can be poison to innovation. That’s why, if an innovator asks the FCC to approve a new technology or service, we’ll make a decision within one year (light-speed by government standards). Federal law already requires the FCC to meet that timeline, but that rule has largely been ignored since its adoption decades ago. Under this administration, those seeking to innovate will no longer need to wait indefinitely for an answer.”

Finally, he discusses some of the new technologies, and how the FCC is working on the, “introduction of the next-generation television standard. This new technical standard is the first one to marry the advantages of broadcasting and the Internet.

Imagine if television stations could offer 4K video, immersive audio, better accessibility features for Americans with disabilities, localized and advanced emergency alerts, and reception on mobile devices.

All of this could be made possible by next-generation television. Our gal is to approve this new standard by the end of the year so that television broadcasters can begin to use it on a voluntary, market-driven basis.”

All of his comments can be found here.

The Commission will Likely Soon Again Be Complete

President Trump has set forth nominations for the two vacant spots on the Commission which include Brendan Carr (R), and Jessica Rosenworcel (D).

Brendan Carr has been a legal advisor to Chairman Pai and has worked at the agency for over five years. He has a strong background in wireless policy and public safety.

Jessica Rosenworcel has a bit of an interesting background. Back in February, Clay&Milk took a look at the important things to note about the FCC for 2017.

It’s noted that Jessica Rosenworcel served on the commission under President Obama and was resubmitted to serve on the Commission while he was still president. At the time it was thought to be a long shot she would be a commissioner again, but it appears it will likely happen.

Both nominees must be confirmed by the Senate, (which is likely) and once they do, the Commission will be full with a 3-2 partisan split (Republicans holding the majority- as that is the party currently in the WhiteHouse)..

GAO: Additional Action Needed to Address Significant Risks in FCC’s Lifeline Program

On a not so high note for the FCC, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was released that shows $1.2 Million from the Lifeline Program was paid to fake or deceased individuals.

The study was requested four years ago by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and the results show a complete lack of oversight for this program. The Lifeline program has no evaluation in place to gauge the effectiveness. According to The Hill, “The GAO tested 19 of the roughly 900 providers and found phone companies approved applicants for fraudulent individuals 63 percent of the time.” The full report can be found here.

Interestingly enough, Commissioner Rosenworcel worked to expand the Lifeline program, and this report is coming out around the time Senators will be talking with her for the confirmation period. It likely won’t impact her overall confirmation as she is well liked by both parties and industry, but rest assured this will come up at her confirmation hearing.

Gentz: Because enough isn't happening already, the FCC makes news | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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