Tom Wheeler Surging; Profiles of Other Prospective Candidates to be FCC Chairman: Susan Crawford and Blair Levin

Broadband Stimulus, Broadband's Impact, Congress, FCC, National Broadband Plan, People April 15th, 2013

, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2013 – Tom Wheeler, one of the most-frequently mentioned names to take the chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission, remains perhaps the leading contender for the role, according to a Friday telecom update from Medley Global Advisors.

“Venture capitalist and former lobbyist Tom Wheeler picked up a strong vote of confidence from a mix of tech policy experts that includes former administration officials and an ex-industry watchdog,” according to the MGA briefing. “The backing is designed to offset public interest group opposition to Wheeler,” and included a prominent public-interest voice, Andrew Schwartzman, former president of the Media Access Project. Wheeler was one of the first names mentioned in Broadband Breakfast’s series of short profiles of potential chairmen.

Aside from Wheeler, two other prominent candidates with strong supporters are Susan Crawford and Blair Levin.

Crawford has the support of the Washington Post, a White House petition and many active users of Twitter. Crawford, currently a columnist for Bloomberg View a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, comes from a long public interest background.

Crawford, long a champion of net neutrality founded OneWebDay in 2005, and served on the board for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers for three years. Like many of her competitors, Crawford has had deep ties in the Obama administration, and served for a little less than a year in 2009 as an advisor on Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy.

Crawford is also the author of the 2012 book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Gilded Age. At the time of its publication, Time described Crawford’s book as an argument “that the Internet has replaced traditional phone service as the most essential communications utility in the country, and is now as important as electricity was 100 years ago.”

To those who follow telecommunications issues in Washington, Blair Levin is a familiar face, as he has lent his expertise to many area conferences. Levin, summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, served as Chief of Staff to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1993-1997. During this time, Levin oversaw the implementation of the historic 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, the first spectrum auctions, the development of digital television standards, and the Commission’s Internet initiative.

Currently Levin serves as the Communications and Society Fellow at the Aspen Institute Community and Society Program. From 2009-2010, he returned to the FCC as the Executive Director of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative. In this role, Levin was instrumental in the development of the National Broadband Plan.

Outside of his time at the FCC and Aspen Institute, Levin has decades of experience working as a lawyer in the private sector. In 2008 and 2009, he co-chaired the Obama transition teams technology and government reform division. Levin is also the Executive Director of the Gig.U, which is working with 37 university communities to help boost super-high-speed broadband connectivity.

Levin is the author of the 2012 eBook The Politics of Abundance: How Technology Can Fix the Budget, Revive the American Dream, and Establish Obama’s Legacy.

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