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After four years America's telecommunications regulator has a big leadership shakeup

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his decision to step down from the prestigious post on Friday, confirming rumors published by Reuters earlier this week.  Chairman Genachowski had manned the prestigious post for four years.

I. FCC Chief Resigns

The leadership change at America's telecommunications regulatory agency is the second major one in recent weeks for the Obama administration.  U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a little over a month ago that he was stepping down after four years in office.

At a 20-minute departure speech to staffers, he bragged of the progress made in the national broadband plan.  He bragged about the success of freeing up wireless spectrum in particular, stating, "Over the past four years we've focused the FCC on broadband, wired and wireless, working to drive economic growth and improve the lives of all Americans.  And thanks to you, the commission's employees, we've taken big steps to build a future where broadband is ubiquitous and bandwidth is abundant, where innovation and investment are flourishing."

Julius Genachowski
Chairman Julius Genachowski hugs a coworker after announcing his decision to resign.
[Image Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]

The FCC also succeeded in prodding Congress to transition the $8B USD Clinton-era Universal Services Fund (USF) towards broadband.  The USF had originally been designed to increase land line phone service to rural areas of the U.S., which carriers refused to serve due to undesirable profit potential. But amid fading interest in landlines, the move towards broadband seemed a wise move.

Chairman Genachowski followed in the President's footsteps, graduating in 1991 from Harvard Law School with high honors.  Before his time at the FCC he clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and then later for Justices William J. Brennan and David Souter at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

II. Strongest Impact? Perhaps Blocking AT&T Deal

Perhaps the biggest contribution of Chairman Genachowski's reign, however, was his role in challenging AT&T (T) from taking yet another step in cellular network consolidation.  After happily stamping decades of mergers and acquisitions, AT&T hit a roadblock in its effort to acquired Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA, a move which would leave only three major carriers and make AT&T the nation's largest network.

For better or worse, today we have a much more competitive market thanks to that move. AT&T remains strongas does Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)/Vodafone Group Plc.'s (LON:VOD) joint subsidiary Verizon Wireless.  At the same time Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) is looking revitalized thanks to a bailout/partial acquisition by Japan's Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984)  And T-Mobile USA has been merged with MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) in a deal approved earlier this month.

As a result of these shifts, the players in the market have held steady, while strengthening the "weaker" carriers -- seemingly the best-case scenario for consumers.

AT&T glass
Chairman Genachowski helped block AT&T's T-Mobile USA takeover attempt. 
[Image Source: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton]

Even some of his foes seemed to acknowledge that the Chairman's oft-criticized stands wound up working out well in the end.  Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell commented, "Although occasionally we disagreed, sometimes profoundly, he leaves office with my utmost respect.  He proved that through hard work, persistence and creativity, bipartisanship and compromise in policymaking can occur in Washington, even in these days of sharp divisions and gridlock."

A handful of groups offered a bit of criticism, though.  For example, Public Knowledge, a consumer rights advocacy group, offered faint praise for some of the Chairman's stands (like blocking the AT&T/T-Mobile USA merger), while slamming Chairman Genachowski's his general tenure as a time of "missed opportunities".  Public Knowledge was upset at the Chairman's refusal to strictly regulate net neutrality rules on the mobile market and on his relative disinterest in committing to a major copyright reform platform with regards to digital rights (e.g. legalizing backup copies, etc.).

No immediate replacement has been announced for Mr. Genachowski.

Given his relatively strong track record and history of bridging partisan gaps, don't be surprised to see Chairman Genachowski as a future Federal Appeals Court or Supreme Court nominee under a democratic president.

Sources: FCC [1], [2], Public Knowledge, Reuters



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RE: Yeah just what we need
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/22/2013 3:42:33 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Another liberal Supreme Court nominee.

No thanks.
LOL do you expect a Democrat to nominate a "conservative"?

Don't worry too much, Fit, it's kind of a moot point.

Both parties are essentially growing together into the same entity. Both represent bloated spending (aside from a few younger fringe members that are fighting that status quo).

On average you get over $200 USD in tax breaks, government mandated fees, grants, and other perks, per $1 a company/group of well-heeled professionals (e.g. physicians, etc.) give a member of Congress.

Every bill almost that gets passed today is so loaded with pork from "both sides" sponsors, that the issues themselves are just afterthoughts. The 'R' and 'D' politicians may quibble about moralistic and social welfare issues, but ultimately they're both working unanimously to funnel money from the American taxpayer to the generous special interests who paid their way into office.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Reclaimer77 on 3/22/2013 7:35:59 PM , Rating: 4
That's only true because from a politicians point of view, that's what Americans obviously want. How else can you possibly explain Obama's reelection?

At least with Republicans you have a chance at getting moderates and Conservatives. Are there any Democrats out there who aren't part of this crazy Progressive movement? I don't see them.

But yeah, pretend we would be in the same exact shape had a Republican been in office the past 5 years.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Shig on 3/23/2013 1:42:19 AM , Rating: 2
Republicans generated most of the federal deficit you know. Starting with your best friend Ronald Reagan. Yet they keep pitching the exact same ideals that generated so much debt in the first place. Not sure if you noticed but the debt leveled off during the Clinton years and how the debt more than doubled under Bush.

Apparently you're crazy if you don't want a continuously expanding military and you want money for public education and public infrastructure.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By random2 on 3/23/2013 4:58:44 AM , Rating: 2
Are you trying to tell me trickle Down Economics doesn't work?
It's been working great for at least 3 or 4 percent of us, so it obviously works.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Reclaimer77 on 3/23/2013 11:35:05 AM , Rating: 2
Clearly we would be better off today if Reagan continued the failed tax and spend Carter policies...lmao.

Reagan is responsible for the greatest expansion of the US economy in peacetime ever ever. No Administration since has added more growth, more jobs, and more wealth to this nation. And how did he do it? Simple. He got out of the way and let capitalism do what it does best.

Progressive Democrats are synonymous with the destruction of wealth, jobs, and prosperity. Clinton was actually a moderate Democrat, NOT the "progressive" Socialist type we have today (he reformed Welfare, banned gay marriage, cut taxes in his second term). However he did rob Social Security to pay for his "balanced budget".


RE: Yeah just what we need
By MadMan007 on 3/23/2013 8:06:58 PM , Rating: 2
1) 'Blue dog' Democrats are moderate.

2) Facts about the recession of the 80s and economy under your god Reagan: http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/12/14/reagans-rece... "The unemployment rate did not fall below 6%, however, until September 1987." hmm, great, so Obama should get until 2015, right? Ya, Reaan did what capitalism does best, concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer people.

3) Here's another good chart: http://zfacts.com/p/318.html ruhroh Shaggy, debt:GDP decreasing regardless of president or congress up until Reagan. To quote Cheney 'Reagan proved deficits don't matter'. It blows my mind when conservatives romanticize the Reagan years as some kind of budgetary golden era when the hard facts are so readily available.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Reclaimer77 on 3/23/2013 9:23:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1) 'Blue dog' Democrats are moderate.


That's an extinct species my friend. Can you name me 10 of them based on voting record? How about 5?

As far as the typical revisionist history from Liberals that has become Reagan bashing, I have better things to do than entertain fantasies. Were you even alive at the time? NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY living through the Carter/Reagan era would even legitimize this trash with a response. The difference was like night and day.

quote:
It blows my mind when conservatives romanticize the Reagan years as some kind of budgetary golden era when the hard facts are so readily available.


It was a golden era for America. We were hitting on all cylinders, the economy was just exploding, Reagan cut Carters inflation numbers in half, and added over 7 million jobs to the economy. Oh right, I forgot, those were ALL just "top 1% jobs"? Idiot, get real. He also severely decreased the tax burden for ALL Americans. Carters tax rates across all brackets were insane. Again, this didn't just benefit the "rich". Seriously how long are you Libtards going to cling to that stereotype?

You can nitpick and cherrypick all you want. The simple fact is there's NO contest between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. One worked, it's proven. The other is a complete and utter failure, and blaming Republicans for it comes off as a desperate illusion.

http://www.humanevents.com/2013/02/06/norquist-rea...


RE: Yeah just what we need
By espaghetti on 3/23/2013 10:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
President Reagan's favorite former President was Calvin Coolidge.
The father of the roaring 20's and a major contributor to the civil rights movement.
I cringe knowing we have only had 2 or 3 truly conservative presidents in the last 100 years or more.
The strangest thing happens when they get elected, each class of citizen "progresses" financially and socially.
For the last 5 years, I've heard nothing from blame and accusations toward a minority political party.
I'm definitely not as proud of our government as I have been in the past.

The strangest occurrence has happened since this guy took office..
The majority of news outlets that would (rightly) hold President Bush accountable for excessive spending, now have been ball gagged and blindfolded.

The game our government is playing with our money will loose.
We will not print, borrow or spend our way out of this debt.
We will pay it off.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Ammohunt on 3/25/2013 11:54:48 AM , Rating: 2
Not before we all go to the poor house. What is being done to this country now is unfix-able in a republic style government. Even if the economy came back gang busters the debt and deficit would eat it all up. Soon there will be two classes, the ruling class and the dirt poor. The 101 year supply of ammunition the DHS recently purchased for "Training" will ensure that anyone not happy with that will be forced to comply.

As far as i am concerned the Zombie apocalypse has already happened i am surrounded by mindless Zombies everyday!


RE: Yeah just what we need
By LordSojar on 3/24/2013 11:56:06 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Reagan is responsible for the greatest expansion of the US economy in peacetime ever ever. No Administration since has added more growth, more jobs, and more wealth to this nation. And how did he do it? Simple. He got out of the way and let capitalism do what it does best.


Wrong. Reagan oversaw a huge spike in unemployment thanks to companies shipping business overseas to China and padding their earnings by reducing workforce, and thus expenditures.

Capitalism doesn't function on its own. It rewards pure and unadulterated greed, it's fundamentally evil on its own, and it serves only to in the degeneracy of the bourgeoisie. It isn't the best system, which is not to say it's the worst either. But... you make it out to be god's gift upon mankind. Newsflash, it's anything but.

Reagan was nothing more than a poster boy for commercialization of the government and corruption. The primary issue with Republicans is that they believe that everything should be privatized (if they're true Republicans), or if they're Tea Party, they shove moral issues down everyone's throats; moral issues which belong in the 1800s.

Quite frankly Reclaimer, you've become a talking head for the neo-conservative movement which is honestly a social minority in the scheme of things. They just have really, really big mouths and like to yell over everyone else that has any shred of moderate standings.

Also, I'm still confused as to how our current corporatism based President. Obama isn't a socialist as you're so eager to label him. Banning gay marriage is a bad idea, period. Cutting taxes is irresponsible in times of financial deficit when we need federal spending. Clinton was president in a different era, and cutting taxes at that juncture was a responsible and financially sound policy. Cutting taxes now is irresponsible and is foolish not to mention financially nonviable.

Progressivism has been made to look villainous by the far right to be something it isn't. The actual basis of the movement, whether or not you agree with it or not, is the progression of government, social order and economic systems to fit other standards that progress with time. A stale and unchanging social, economic and political ecosystem is one doomed to fail, period. Society evolves and so with it must the country go in all facets. So, to sit there and block the progression of culture as a whole due to some ideological bologna is irresponsible and reprehensible. Say what you will about Democrats and Republicans, or any other party for that matter... but blocking the evolution of humanity for self serving motivations is morally bankrupt and idiotic. So, take that as you will.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By espaghetti on 3/25/2013 9:38:39 AM , Rating: 2
Conservatism embraces the individual's rights and freedoms as explained in the Constitution.

Progressives tell me that I should or shouldn't be doing some kind of behavior that may or may not be unhealthy.

One treats me like a full grown man and the other as a child.

If you like being bossed around by some self appointed tyrant, go live in Cuba.
I hear the weather is nice.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/2013 5:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
How exactly do you add 14 million jobs to the economy, and also oversee a "huge spike" in unemployment at the same time?

If that's your opening argument, I'll just do myself a favor and skip the rest of your factually incorrect lies. Go make crap up on somebody elses time. Reagan's record is a part of history, and you people cannot simply erase history because it doesn't fit your dogmatic ideology.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By LordSojar on 3/26/2013 2:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How exactly do you add 14 million jobs to the economy, and also oversee a "huge spike" in unemployment at the same time? If that's your opening argument, I'll just do myself a favor and skip the rest of your factually incorrect lies. Go make crap up on somebody elses time. Reagan's record is a part of history, and you people cannot simply erase history because it doesn't fit your dogmatic ideology.


First, you can, and that's EXACTLY what happened. Those added jobs were purely financial sector jobs as well as foreign administrative positions and import/export jobs. Oh, and lest we not forget that Kennedy and Johnson had farm better job creation than Reagan. So did Roosevelt and Truman. But Democrats can't possibly create jobs right? Obama is even nearing Reagan in job creation percentiles, so I guess by that metric, Reagan was also a dismal failure right?

Also, my ideology is dogmatic? In what regard? I don't force my beliefs on others, I don't condemn people to be bastards of the United States for their beliefs in systems other than what I feel is right. It's you who is the dogmatic one here Reclaimer, not I. As for facts... what I posted previously is a mix of fact and opinion. "Factually incorrect lies" doesn't make any sense by the way... But I guess if you believe that exporting our manufacturing industries to foreign countries and companies subsequently firing millions of people to pad the books for investors is morally okay, you may want to examine your own ideological systems and beliefs. I don't and will never believe that punishing the working class to benefit the rich is EVER right, no matter what twisted reasoning you use.


RE: Yeah just what we need
By conquistadorst on 3/25/2013 9:14:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Republicans generated most of the federal deficit you know. Starting with your best friend Ronald Reagan.


Indeed you are spot on, though I wish it could stay that way. Te current president is sure making grow even faster so I'm not sure how much longer you'll stay right. Republicans love touting cutting taxes and decreasing spending, they just forget to do the 2nd part.

The gap right now is so wide I fail to see how we could ever address it without nuking the economy in dance step. Nobody wants to face the frightening reality that perhaps our current economy was essentially "borrowed". Who in their sane mind would willing to give it back without a economic "gun" to their head?


RE: Yeah just what we need
By FastEddieLB on 3/25/2013 2:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How else can you possibly explain Obama's reelection?
Because California has entirely too much power in the electoral college.


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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