Welcome to the FCC, Julius: Now Get to Work on a National Broadband Plan, Please…

Published on June 29, 2009
by Kara Swisher


Last week, after much delay, longtime Internet exec Julius Genachowski (pictured here) was confirmed by the Senate as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

It is an important role for the future development of the Web, of course, although it took a dog’s age into the new Democratic administration to approve him.

Hopefully, he and the other commissioners can soon get to work on a wide range of major digital issues, such as a national broadband plan that does not cost Americans a fortune.

Genachowski, a close tech adviser to President Barack Obama, was seated along with Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican appointee who was confirmed for a second FCC term.

After the Senate approves two others–Democrat Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker for the GOP–in the next month, it will round out the five-member panel.

(The other FCC commissioner is a Dem, Michael Copps, who has been acting chairman while Genachowski got approval.)

Genachowski, a former FCC staffer, was most recently working as a VC at Rock Creek Ventures and LaunchBox Digital. But he is best known to many in Silicon Valley as a top exec at IAC/InterActiveCorp. (IACI).

He is likely to make his debut to chair his first meeting this coming Thursday, and it is a humdinger of dull:

According to the FCC’s Web site, the July open meeting, held in Washington, D.C., will consider three items:

1.) Amendment of the Commission’s Rules to Provide Spectrum for the Operation of Medical Body Area Networks: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allocate spectrum and establish service and technical rules for the operation of Medical Body Area Networks to monitor patients’ physiological data.

2.) Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for FM Broadcast Stations: The Commission will consider a Report and Order concerning changes in the FM translator rules to allow AM broadcast stations to rebroadcast their signals on eligible FM translator stations.

3.) Amendment of Part 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Accommodate 30 Megahertz Channels in the 6525-6875 MHz Band: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing whether to provide licensees with authority to operate on channels with bandwidths up to 30 megahertz in the Upper 6 GHz band and whether to extend conditional authority to two additional channel pairs in the 23 GHz band, as well as an Order addressing a related waiver reques.

But the site also mentioned that “the Meeting also will include a presentation on the status of the Commission’s process for developing a National Broadband Plan.”

Now, that is something BoomTown would like to know about since this country is effectively still in the dirt-road period, in terms of high-speed broadband access for Americans.

But, of course, the cost of what we do get–which is very substandard compared to a lot of other countries–is also very pricey.

Let’s hope Genachowski–who has a lot of other issues on his plate, especially as the media industry undergoes drastic reconfiguration too–can do something about it.

In a related note, Lawrence Strickling was also OK’d to run the telecom division of the Commerce Department, which is the agency with the dough ($4.7 billion in government funds) to help the create this supposed Internet infrastructure boom with the FCC.

I remain dubious of any movement in the arena, but still hopeful.

And, until there is some action from Genachowski, here is a highlights video from an onstage interview Walt Mossberg and I did with former FCC chairman Kevin Martin–along with Verizon (VZ) Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam–at the sixth D: All Things Digital conference in 2008.

Here is the D6 video:

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