New FCC, Telecom Committee Chairs: What's In Store?

from the predicting-politicians dept

As the new Presidential administration gets settled in, it's worth taking a look at some of the leadership changes that will affect the technology and communications spaces. First, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has announced he's stepping down on Jan. 20 (not that we'll be too upset), and he'll be replaced by Julius Genachowski, pending confirmation hearings. Genachowski is a long-time friend of Barack Obama, dating back to their time together at Harvard Law School; he was also chief counsel of the FCC during the Clinton administration. But he's also most recently worked in venture capital, and was also an executive at IAC, giving some hope to the idea that he's well-tuned to the needs of web startups, entrepreneurship and new media, and will give them a voice in Washington. Many stories have noted that Genachowski's positions on many issues aren't widely known, but he did chair the advisory group that delivered Obama's Technology and Innovation Plan, which he summarized in a blog post as "Open Government. Open Networks. Open Markets." GigaOM came up with a nice wish list of tasks for Genachowski, and also reports that telcos can expect their influence at the FCC to wane from Martin's era, that cable companies can expect a slightly better environment, and that wireless companies can expect to see their broadband plans promoted. Like us, they're optimistic that Genachowski's leadership will see the FCC adopt policies that benefit consumers, rather than telcos and other providers, but we'll wait for his confirmation hearings for more details.

Over in the House of Representatives, Congressman Rick Boucher, a Democrat from Virginia and a leading proponent for consumer rights on the House intellectual property subcommittee is taking over the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee. Boucher's swapping places on another committee with former chair Rep. Ed Markey, who's introduced net neutrality legislation in the past. In an interview with the WSJ, Boucher laid out some of his views: he says net neutrality isn't a top priority for him, but that forcing wireless operators to open their networks and allow consumers to access any type of service could be. He also wants to try and reform the Universal Service Fund, an enormous telco boondoggle that really does little to advance its goal of building out telecom service in rural areas. That all sounds good, generating further optimism that things telecom-wise could be taking a turn for the better under the new administration. Still, it bears repeating: hopefully both Genachowski and Boucher will understand that what's really needed in the telecom space is real competition, and that they'll work towards crafting solutions that engender it.

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  • icon
    chris (profile), 20 Jan 2009 @ 4:19am

    competition in telecommunications?

    isn't that like "truth in advertising"?

    the whole point of advertising is to lie to people to get them to buy your crappy products.

    the whole point of telecommunications is to take large amounts of money from governments, corporations, and consumers while delivering as little as possible.

    competition would lower the amount of money that could be stolen while increasing the amount of quality and service to be delivered.

    i really don't understand why a telecom would willingly to engage in such a profit threatening activity as competition.

    isn't that the reason they spend all of that money to buy politicians and legislation?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      nasch, 20 Jan 2009 @ 10:14am

      Re: competition in telecommunications?

      They won't. That's why we're hoping someone forcibly introduces changes that allow others to compete.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        chris (profile), 20 Jan 2009 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re: competition in telecommunications?

        They won't. That's why we're hoping someone forcibly introduces changes that allow others to compete.

        you mean through force of arms, right?

        there is no political solution that can counter the sheer volume of money that has been invested in the status quo.

        there is no way that the coin operated politicos in DC are going to let stop accepting all that telco money, unless forced to do so by a larger force, like an armed revolt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Charlie Stogner, 20 Jan 2009 @ 6:09am

    FCC leadership

    I only hope new leadership at FCC will result in insuring the Media Bureau finally begins to treat 'leased access' in a manner consistent with how Congress wanted a 'genuine outlet' for independent programmers, unaffiliated with the local cable operator.
    For too many years, the career-level staff has not acted in a manner that even handedly administered the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Telephone Engineers, 12 Aug 2009 @ 12:36am

    New FCC chairman, will help promote wireless broadband access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    telephone engineer, 26 Aug 2009 @ 7:17am

    If the focus is on wireless, then we are doomed. Wireless can deliver low performance but high ubiquity. It does not solve the last mile bandwidth to the home / office. To do that we need fiber to the home/office. And to make that afordable, it can’t be owned or operated by the Cable/Telcos. It needs to be a physical layer only transport service. Just like roads. A vibrant marketplace would emerge if there was dark fiber available in most places at cost that are amortized over appropriate for physical plant 30 year time periods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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