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Obama Picks Julius Genachowski to Head FCC; Pick Draws Praise From All Sides

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2009 – President Obama’s long-awaited nomination of Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was greeted with an enthusiastic reaction from groups representing every corner of the telecommunications community.



WASHINGTON, March 3, 2009 – President Obama’s long-awaited nomination of Julius Genachowski to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was greeted with an enthusiastic reaction from groups representing every corner of the telecommunications community.

Genachowski has long been heir-apparent to former chairman Kevin Martin since January 13, when the media reported that then-President-elect Obama would nominate Genachowski to replace Martin.

Martin announced his resignation on Thursday, January 15, and his last day was January 20.

Genachowski, currently a venture capitalist and advisor to LaunchBox Digital, a Washington, D.C.-based technology incubator, attended Harvard Law School with Obama and worked on his campaign as a technology policy advisor. He also served as an advisor to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.

Acting FCC chairman Michael Copps praised Genachowski: “Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country – and the Commission,” Copps said. “I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest.”

Copps’ Democratic colleague Jonathan Adelstein called Genechowski “the right person at the right time for the job.”

Adelstein said the President’s nominee has “a strong strategic vision, striking talents, wealth of experience inside and outside of the Commission, and practical understanding of technology,” and is illustrative of Obama’s commitment to the “transformational power of communications technology and innovation.”

Republican commissioner Robert McDowell was slightly more restrained in welcoming Genechowski. In his written statement, McDowell said he looked forward to working with Genachowski, who he said “will bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government but also in the private sector.”

Industry professionals were pleased with the president’s choice. Federal Communications Bar Association president and Sidley Austin partner Mark Schneider (who said he was not speaking on behalf of the FCBA or his firm) said Genachowski is “in many ways immensely qualified for the position.”

Schneider said Genachowski brings to the FCC many years of experience in both the public and private sectors, particularly with regard to internet and broadband technology. “Based on my work with him and my knowledge of him, I’m optimistic about his abilities to lead the agency at this important time,” he said.

National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said he was looking forward to working with Genachowski. He said he “combines the policy savvy and real-world experience that will be necessary to confront both the challenges and opportunities presented at a time of incredible change sweeping the media, communications and technology marketplace.”

Steve Largent, president of CTIA – The Wireless Association, said the chairman-designate “has an appreciation for the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that are hallmarks of the wireless industry,” and called Genachowski “well qualified to assume leadership at the Commission.”

Public interest advocates were also pleased with Obama’s selection. Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver called him “an excellent choice” who has shown “a deep understanding of the central role of technology in shaping our 21st- Century economy and democracy.”

Genachowski’s long tenure in the industry was again invoked as a positive by Sprint Nextel Corp spokesman John Taylor. Taylor said Genachowski would bring “experience, deep policy understanding and knowledge of the regulatory process to the Commission,” and Sprint Nextel looks forward to working with him on issues including “restoring competition to the failed special access markets that are stifling broadband deployment in our country.”

And Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, was exuberant in her praise for the incoming chairman: “I have known Julius for over 15 years, both as a public servant and as a savvy and progressive businessman,” she said.

Sohn said she believes Genachowski “will work to ensure that the FCC meets its legal obligation to protect the ‘public interest, convenience and necessity,’ and will develop a principled, strategic policy agenda that promotes openness, free speech, competition, innovation, access, economic growth and consumer welfare.”

After years of frustration under Martin, who was often criticized by stakeholders on all sides for running the agency in an unusually heavy-handed manner, Sohn was confident in Genachowski’s ability to continue the push for openness begun by acting chairman Copps:

“I am certain that he will seek to restore public confidence in an agency that has had a long history of opaqueness, industry capture, and a lack of data-driven policymaking.”

Even those on the other side of the aisle are feeling optimistic about Genachowski’s potential.  Wilkinson Barker Knauer attorney Bryan Tramont, called him an “exciting choice.” to head the agency. Tramont, who served as FCC chief of staff under former chairman Michael Powell was enthusiastic about Genachowski’s nomination: “His depth of experience inside the FCC and respect for the institution will be extremely valuable to the decision-making process.”

And former Republican commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth called Genachowski “a great choice” to succeed Martin — who was once one of Furchtgott-Roth’s legal advisers. “[Genachowski] will be a great asset to the FCC.”

Broadband Breakfast Club

March Meeting: Broadband Competition: Do We Have It, and How Do We Get More of It? presents the March meeting of the Broadband Breakfast Club at Old Ebbitt Grill on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at 8 a.m. Because of the Commerce Department/Agriculture Department/FCC Public Meeting on broadband stimulus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Broadband Breakfast Club will adjourn at 9:30 a.m.

  • NEW! – James Baller, President of Baller Herbst Law Group, will provide a brief summary of the progress of the U.S. Broadband Coalition
  • Art Brodsky, Communication Director, Public Knowledge
  • Kathleen Ham, Vice President, Federal Regulatory, T-Mobile USA
  • Brent Olson, Assistant Vice President, Public Policy, AT&T
  • Emmett O’Keefe, Director, Federal Public Policy,
  • Scott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute

Webcasts of the Broadband Breakfast Club Produced in Partnership with:

TV Mainstream

Andrew Feinberg is the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.


FCC Announces New RDOF Accountability and Transparency Measures, Additional Funding

Results of verifications, audits and speed and latency testing for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will be made public.



Photo of reels of cabling in Hinsdale, Mont., in August 2016 by Tony Webster used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said that it will implement new accountability and transparency measures, and make public the results of verifications, audits and speed and latency testing for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The measures are part of a new known as the Rural Broadband Accountability Fund that monitors several universal service high-cost programs.

Additionally announced in a press release, the Rural Broadband Accountability Fund will speed up the FCC’s audit and verification processes.

Audits and verifications are projected to double in 2022 as compared to 2021 and include on-site audits, and a particular focus will be placed on auditing and verifying the largest-dollar and highest-risk RDOF recipients.

The agency also announced that it would commit more than $1.2 billion more to RDOF, the largest funding round for the program to date.

The new funding will bring broadband service to more than 1 million locations through deployments in 32 states, with 23 broadband providers assisting the effort.

Going forward, the commission will deny waivers, it said, “for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications.”

All winning bidders will undergo “an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review.”

Finally, the commission says a list of areas will be published which details where providers have defaulted, “making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.”

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Broadband Data

Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements

Broadband providers must now create “broadband nutrition labels” which list pricing and speed information.



Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel from January 2015 by the Internet Education Foundation used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require that broadband providers create “broadband nutrition labels” that list information on the pricing and speed of internet service they provide.

The labels mimic food nutrition labels in format and aim to increase transparency of providers in their marketing to consumers.

With their approval at the commission’s monthly open meeting Thursday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the new rules are crucial to consumers being able to find the best deals on broadband service for their personal needs.

Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the label format, saying that it allows consumers to “easily compare” information and that it is “black and white, simple to read, and easy to understand.”

The long-simmering idea was enacted by Congress in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by the president on November 15. It directed the FCC to revive the project by one year from the law’s passage.

On Thursday, Joshua Stager, New America’s deputy director for broadband and competition policy at its Open Technology Institute, called the vote “a welcome step forward and a win for consumers.” The think tank began promoting the idea last decade, and it had been endorsed by the Obama administration before being canned by the Trump administration.

Industry group Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said the transparency afforded by the new policy “provides consumers with important tools to make informed choices.”

Additionally in Thursday’s meeting, when the agency tentatively revoked telecom operator China Unicom Americas’ operating authority in the United States, the agency said they had reached out to the Department of Justice for assistance in responding to what they say are potential threats from the China-based company. This inter-agency review is routinely part of determinations involving foreign-owned telecommunications companies.

The agency also updated its definition of “library” to make clear that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive funds under the Universal Service Fund’s E-rate program.

Starks emphasized that the commission’s action represented progress on digital inclusion efforts, but that unfamiliarity of Tribal libraries with the E-rate program remains a problem.

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Federal Communications Commission Implements Rules for Affordable Connectivity Program

The agency implemented new rules on the Affordable Connectivity Program, which makes a new subsidy permanent.



Photo of Jessica Rosenworcel by Rob Kunzig of Morning Consult

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules Friday for its Affordable Connectivity Program that changes and, in some cases narrows, the eligibility requirements for the subsidy to allow for more households to be connected.

An extension of the former Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which offered discounts to broadband service providers to subsidize connectivity and devices, the new program will make it easier for providers to get in the program by automatically making eligible providers in good standing.

Additionally, the FCC maintains that the monthly discount on broadband service is limited to one internet discount per household rather than allowing the benefit for separate members of a household. “Adopting a one-per-household limitation best ensures that Program funding is available to the largest possible number of eligible households,” the agency said in its report.

To accommodate the volume of eligible households enrolling in the ACP, the FCC allowed providers until March 22 – 60 days after its Friday order is published in the Federal Register– to make necessary changes to ensure that the ACP can be applied to providers’ currently sold plans.

“So much of our day to day—work, education, healthcare and more—has migrated online. As a result, it’s more apparent than ever before that broadband is no longer nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have, for everyone, everywhere,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “But there are far too many households across the country that are wrestling with how to pay for gas and groceries and also keep up with the broadband bill. This program, like its predecessor, can make a meaningful difference.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transformed the EBB to the longer-term Affordable Connectivity Program by allocating an additional $14.2 billion to it.

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