FCC Genachowski Steps Down – Who's Next?

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What big news came out of the FCC this week?

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski FCC.jpgFCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has served the Federal Communications Commission since his appointment by President Obama in 2009, announced yesterday that he will be leaving that position “in the coming weeks;” confirming a rumor that had surfaced earlier in the week in Washington DC. The commissioners five year term would have been over in July of this year. During his appointment of FCC Chairman, Genachowski has accomplished several goals such as:

Overall broadband investment
with nearly 250,000,000,000 in private capital being invested in US wired and wireless broadband networks since 2009, and more fiber laid in the US in each of the last two years than any year since 2000.

Mobile investment and innovation
Cellular 4G LTE networks being built at a large scale with as many LTE subscribers as the rest of the world combined.

Broadband investment, deployment and adoption
Doubling broadband speeds since 2009, and an overall increase of 10% of connected homes. That connectivity has the capability of reaching 80% of US homes with speeds of 100 Mb per second, which is touted as one of the highest percentages in the world, and quadruple of the 20% since 2009. These actions align with the general theme of better connectivity to more individuals that is been prevalent in the Commission’s actions over the past several years.

Some of those key actions over the past four years include the creation of the Connect America Fund that enabled universal broadband access to all Americans. The introduction of “incentive auctions” designed to free up additional radiofrequency spectrum that will enable mobile broadband connectivity. Those auctions are slated to be held in 2014, and will be the first in the world to do so.

Net neutrality has been a fierce debate designed to preserve the Internet as an open architecture for innovation, and were proposed in the very first few months of Chairman Genachowski’s term as Commissioner.

In an effort to maintain and promote competition in the broadband marketplace, the FCC and the Department of Justice opposed the AT&T and T-Mobile merger as well as advancing “special access” reform that helps ensure competition in the market for dedicated communications lines for businesses.

On the front of protecting and enhancing public safety, the Commission held a series of field meetings that were designed to identify actions that would improve resiliency and expedite the restoration of communication services after a large disaster. In the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, the recommendation was made to Congress that a nationwide interoperable Public Safety broadband network was required to deliver multimedia information to units in the field, and work closely with Congress to make that recommendation a reality in legislation enacted in February 2012. That legislation led to the creation of FirstNet, which is now becoming a reality.

It’s not always easy to navigate your way around a government website. But another initiative the FCC undertook is retooling the www.FCC.gov site to be more interactive, and useful to anyone looking for data and information. I find that information is fairly easy to find, and the FCC.gov/live section always has multimedia available from open commission meetings, as well as broadcasting many of the events live. These are all signs that the FCC commissioners understand their charter, and practice what they preach.

Is there criticism to some of the FCC actions? Absolutely there is. But in my opinion, if you upset both sides of the aisle to some degree, it’s probably a sign that you’re doing a good job. The big question on the table now is, “Who’s next?”. That decision is up to the President of the United States to nominate, and for Congress to confirm, and several rumors are flying around the Internet. One rumor includes Commissioner Clyburn, who is the senior Commissioner of the group, and others include prominent members of the telecommunications industry.

For now, watch this space closely.

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