FCC Chairman Kevin Martin yesterday said he will resign effective Jan. 20, after which he will become a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Aspen Institute.
The move is a formality, as Martin was an appointee of President George W. Bush, moving up to the chairman’s seat in Bush’s second term. His replacement in the Barack Obama administration will be Julius Genachowski, although that is not yet announced by the transition team.
Genachowski is already endorsed by the CTIA and public advocacy groups. It’s likely that current commissioner Michael Copps will serve as interim chairman until Genachowski is confirmed by Congress.
Martin, summarizing his tenure, cited nationwide progress in improving the availability and cost of communications.
“During this period, we have seen a telecommunications industry undergoing rapid and unprecedented change. As a result of the market-oriented and consumer-focused policies we have pursued, the American people are now reaping the rewards of convergence and the broadband revolution, including new and more innovative technologies and services at ever-declining prices,” he wrote in a resignation letter to Bush.
Also yesterday, all eight FCC divisions presented public overviews of their work under Martin’s leadership.
Martin’s tenure ends, however, with some controversy and unfinished business. A recent report by House Democrats focused on his allegedly abusive and improper management. Technological issues, such as the change from analog to digital television, are also somewhat chaotic, depending on who you ask, while the role of auctions for public-safety purposes is under debate.
Also in Washington this week, the House began drafting a bailout report – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – which contains $2.825 billion in funding for the NTIA. The wireless industry would get $1 billion of those funds for unserved and underserved regions, helping with “…the deployment of basic broadband service or advanced broadband service,” the report states.
“Factors in grant award decisions by the NTIA will include public safety; state reports on priorities; increases in affordability and subscribership; service enhancement for health care delivery, education, or children; enhancement of computer ownership and computer literacy; and state or local matching funds. Grant recipients must also meet buildout requirements and adhere to open access principles,” it continues.
Filed Under: Infrastructure