FCC Seeks Comment on Impacts of Worldwide Semiconductor Shortage

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) explained that it is soliciting public comment on the ongoing shortage of semiconductors and what effects it may have on the domestic communications sector. According to the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), these may include increased manufacturing lead times and cost hikes.

The WTB’s public notice stated the shortage has been attributed to several factors, including pandemic-related global production slowdowns, unanticipated spikes in demand, weather-related shutdowns of several large U.S. manufacturing facilities, and a recent fire in an overseas semiconductor wafer fabrication plant. “Complex supply chains are involved in the production of these chips, and while the current shortage so far has had an outsized impact on automakers, reverberations are being reported throughout the U.S. economy as a whole, including in the communications sector,” the notice explained.

The public notice also acknowledged that the supply constraints have been addressed by both Congress and the president. On Jan. 1, Congress reportedly passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS Act), to promote and support investment in the domestic semiconductor sector. The following month, President Biden issued an executive order proclaiming the need for a robust supply chain while noting that shortages of crucial components like semiconductors can limit manufacturing capacity and harm product integrity.

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel echoed the president’s sentiments. That is why, she explained in a statement, the FCC is “seeking to better understand the current shortage, its consequences for the communications sector, and steps we can take to ensure that FCC priorities and initiatives remain on track.”

The FCC’s WTB will accept initial comments until June 10, and reply comments until June 25.