The federal agency that oversees communications in the United States – a 5-member panel that’s been in a state of flux roughly since President Barack Obama’s swearing-in four months ago – is beginning to take shape.
Though questions remain about who will fill one of two Republican seats on the Federal Communications Commission, and whether the Senate will back Obama’s nominee for FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski (News
) (the Senate is considering him and some GOP nominees now), the White House this week said it’s nominating Republican Robert McDowell for another term.
Pictured below, McDowell is a Bush appointee whom the Senate confirmed three years ago.
Obama’s administration described McDowell as an advocate for developing new broadband technologies, and a man who has helped create rules governing wireless auctions.
Naturally, telecom industry giants and trade groups weighed in on the McDowell announcement immediately.
Susanne Guyer, Verizon’s (News
) senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs, said
McDowell “has shown a deep understanding of this industry and the role that market incentives play in stimulating both wireline and wireless broadband deployment.”
“At this crucial time for broadband investment, jobs and the economy, there needs to be a full team of commissioners in place,” she said. “So we hope Congress will act quickly to approve the nominees.”
Similarly, a trade and lobbying group that includes more than 8,300 radio and television stations – the National Association of Broadcasters – said
it has “deep respect” for McDowell.
“His good humor and open-minded approach to issues facing the Commission have served the public well, and we look forward to working with him during his second term,” NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said.
Given the rising importance of the FCC (News
) as the regulatory body that oversees telecommunications, it would be foolish to criticize a nominee that in all likelihood will be approved to serve again.
Consider some of the critical policy changes that the FCC is facing now.
We’re less than two weeks away from the dreaded conversion
from analog broadcast services to digital television, and the FCC is making its final push
to prepare the estimated 20 million consumers to be affected.
FCC members could include Mignon Clyburn
, Genachowski, McDowell, and former NTIA acting head Meredith Attwell Baker (a Republican). The FCC panel is currently without a permanent chairman. Michael Copps (News
), a Democrat, is serving in an acting capacity. Obama is expected to nominate another Democrat soon.
Before joining the FCC, McDowell served as senior vice president and assistant general at COMPTEL (News
), a company that represents facilities-based telcos.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan