DC Influencer: Josh Gottheimer, senior counselor, FCC

Josh Gottheimer, senior counselor at the FCC, talks to Jaimy Lee about the National Broadband Plan and the communications challenges of complex issues.

What issues are you working on?

We're focused on building the communications infrastructure for the future. There's a great spectrum crunch going on, where there's incredible demand. Right now, we are a leader in mobile broadband, but if we want to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with demand, there are changes we must make. One key to the US economy's future is being competitive in this space, having the hi-tech infrastructure that can keep up with the innovation.

What's the toughest communications challenge the FCC faces right now?

We're not just dealing with spectrum, but a breadth of issues - things such as net neutrality. A lot of these are wonky, intricate, and complicated issues, but they also touch your life every day.

The biggest challenge is that we take the time to explain it to people because most things we deal with directly affect lives - more so than different parts of government. Our challenge is to explain what our role is, why it's important, and let people know that we always balance consumer interest versus investment interest.

Is it a challenge competing with other big issues in DC?

There are people who follow our issues very closely. Of course, in Washington, there's a lot of demand for attention. It's always a challenge to make sure that what you are doing is the focus.

The National Broadband Plan has lots of pieces to it and we're now actually implementing aspects of what was in the plan. For instance, the E-rate action was part of an objective we laid out in the plan. You wouldn't expect the plan itself to be discussed every day. What's important is ensuring that pieces of the plan we laid out become a blueprint for action.

Having worked in both the private and public sector, how do you view industry-government partnerships?

The perspective of the private sector has been incredibly useful here, as has my public sector experience. Working together, in the private and public sector, you can get a lot more done.

The private sector has incredible resources and people who are actually on the ground, innovating every day. We must never lose sight of that. It's where most of America works and where our best ideas come from. The government has an important role to make sure we enable and unleash the power of the private sector.

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