Politics

FCC chairman announces resignation, leaving mixed legacy

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced Friday morning that he will resign from his post in the coming weeks.

Genachowski’s announcement came just two days after FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell announced his resignation, leaving the commission with a 2-1 Democratic majority.

“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,” said Genachowski, commending the work of his staff and the Commission during a staff meeting Friday morning.

“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,” he said.

He also outlined various future policy goals, including keeping up the fight for “Internet freedom at home and abroad.”

Genachowski’s resignation announcement has been highly anticipated for several months, and while his colleagues at the FCC commended his service as chairman and for his willingness to work across party lines, industry analysts concluded that Genachowski’s legacy is a mixed one at best.

Berin Szoka, the president of free-market tech policy think tank TechFreedom, criticized Genachwoski’s tenure, stating that he “offered hope, but delivered little of the change we needed.”

Szoka said in a statement that Genachowski failed to eliminate regulatory barriers that slow down broadband deployment, alienated lawmakers, and wasted “two years limited staff resources hunting down the great white whale of Net Neutrality.”

“The next FCC chairman should be someone who can focus on clearing regulatory deadwood and ground the FCC’s work in rigorous cost-benefit analysis with an appropriate humility about technological change,” he said.

Other Beltway insiders have often criticized Genachowski’s tenure as too ideological, saying his long-time friendship with President Barack Obama signaled his strong left-leaning policy preference.

Obama praised Genachowski for his service, stating that “because of his leadership, we have expanded high-speed internet access, fueled growth in the mobile sector, and continued to protect the open internet as a platform for entrepreneurship and free speech.”

The tech policy advocacy group Public Knowledge, however, called Genachowski’s term “one of missed opportunities”.

Emphasizing their belief that he did not do enough to expand the authority of the FCC, Public Knowledge said in a statement that “there is a real danger that the FCC will become a powerless and irrelevant agency as the nation’s communications networks change.”

“The Chairman deserves credit for defending both the Commission’s data roaming rules and unlicensed spectrum, for permitting DISH Network to provide terrestrial wireless service, and for releasing the staff report that helped to end AT&T’s attempted takeover of T-Mobile,” said Public Knowledge, stating that the effects of those actions remains to be seen.

Genachowski’s spokesman declined TheDC’s request for comment about the timing of the resignations.

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