The Senate voted Tuesday 60-31 to confirm Alan Davidson to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He was expected to sail through after the senior body voted Monday night 64-30 to limit debate.
Davidson’s confirmation is key because the agency will oversee about $48 billion for deploying broadband to underserved populations and boosting digital equity, directed by last year’s infrastructure bill. (The agency is seeking input about how to implement the program, Inside Towers reported.)
Davidson was nominated by President Joe Biden in late October to lead the NTIA. He previously worked at Mozilla and the Commerce Department in 2015, which NTIA is under. He became the Commerce’s first director of digital economy, noted Protocol and was a D.C. lobbyist for Google.
Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said of Davidson on the floor Tuesday: “We need his help.” She said lawmakers also look forward to working with him on securing the nation’s communications networks.
He largely avoided lawmaker’s ire during his confirmation process, mostly working to assure lawmakers that deploying broadband spending will be done deliberately and transparently to avoid past mistakes like using taxpayer’s money to overbuild. “Congressional infrastructure funding has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the digital divide and connect all Americans,” Davidson said during his confirmation hearing. “This will be my top priority in the coming years.”
He’ll also be the point person for helping settle spectrum turf wars, such as the skirmish between the FCC and FAA, and helping define administration views on data privacy and other tech topics, according to Politico. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said she wants the agency to spearhead a national spectrum strategy.
The NTIA has lacked a Senate-confirmed administrator since mid-2019, when Trump-era leader David Redl resigned. Evelyn Remaley has been leading the agency as Acting Administrator since January 2021. (see reactions from trade associations below)
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief