FCC preps for shake-up as chairman, commissioner resign

The FCC is preparing for a shuffle of the leadership deck as both the chairman and commissioner have announced resignations.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

After four years in his role, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has announced he will be stepping down in the coming weeks.

Nominated by President Obama in 2009, Genachowski reflected on his decision to his staff on Friday morning.

Highlighting the FCC's efforts around the advancement of broadband technology, here's an excerpt of what he said:

On wired broadband, we’ve laid more fiber in the U.S. in each of the last two years than in any year since 2000, and average broadband speeds nearly doubled since 2009. Networks capable of 100 megabit speeds now pass 80% of households, up from just 20% four years ago. Overall private investment in broadband infrastructure is up significantly in the U.S. Since 2009, annual mobile capital investment is up 40%, while annual investment has been roughly flat in Europe and Asia.

For Internet venture investing, the last two years were the biggest years in over a decade. Altogether, the ICT sector generates more private investment than any other sector of the U.S. economy – more than $250 billion since 2009.

The full text is available on the FCC's website. However, the FCC has not revealed an exact date as to when Genachowski will step down nor as to who might replace him.

The initial reaction to the news appears to be positive -- if not a little surprising too.

Rick Boucher, honorary chairman of the the Internet Innovation Alliance, remarked in a statement on Friday that Genachowski "provided a valuable service as FCC chairman," overseeing " the adoption of a comprehensive reform of the federal universal service fund."

Boucher added that Genachowski "set the stage for the FCC's consideration of the transition to all Internet Protocol networks."

But Genachowski isn't the only one leaving the FCC as Commissioner Robert McDowell will be departing soon as well.

Announced on Thursday, Genachowski asserted in a memo that McDowell was "has been essential to major FCC achievements like the landmark reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation, and many steps to unleash spectrum."

IIA founding co-chairman Bruce Mehlman also commented in prepared remarks that McDowell "had a hand in shaping a great number of policies that improved American competitiveness and helped lay the groundwork for future innovation and tech-led growth.  

Mehlman concluded, "He will be missed."

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