At his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, FCC nominee Geoffrey Starks promised that, if he is approved to assume the seat vacated recently by former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, he will work to advance the FCC’s “core mission” which consists of the connection of all Americans to “safe and secure” networks at reasonable prices, the protection of consumers and the promotion of “localism, diversity, competition and innovation.” Starks, a Democrat, joined the FCC staff in 2015 and currently serves as an assistant chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. Prior to his arrival at the FCC, Starks served at the Justice Department as senior counsel to the deputy attorney general. If confirmed, Starks would serve a fouryear FCC term to expire on June 30, 2022.
In his opening statement, Starks told members of the Senate Commerce Committee that he would be guided by the FCC’s core mission, which is “the same now as it was” when the agency was first established in 1934. As he pledged to devote himself “to being a careful steward of the responsibilities entrusted to the [FCC] by Congress to advance and defend the public interest,” Starks proclaimed that he would “be guided by the parameters Congress has established for the agency: to act according to the direction of Congress whenever it has spoken on a matter in question and, wherever the statute grants the FCC discretion, to review the applicable rules and record in order to reach a reasoned determination.” In conformity with those principles, Starks said that, in addition to protecting consumers and the public interest, he would focus first on “promoting robust broadband access for all Americans” by ensuring “that we create the right incentives for ubiquitous broadband investment and deployment.”
Starks said the FCC should assure that enough spectrum is “brought to market” in the low, middle and high spectrum bands while modernizing cell siting and permitting processes to facilitate infrastructure deployment In regards to net neutrality, Starks told Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) that he believed the FCC’s decision in 2015 to classify broadband Internet access services as a Title II telecommunications service was correct but informed Thune that “I defer to Congress” in terms of ongoing efforts to craft a legislative solution to the net neutrality debate. Describing the current FCC as “a talented, passionate and hard-working team,” Starks told lawmakers: “I have worked extensively with FCC staff and leadership across the agency, and I look forward to building on those relationships.”