NEW YORK (AP) — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, on Friday announced that he's stepping down in the "coming weeks," after a four-year tenure that's garnered mixed reviews for him and tangible progress in the industries he oversees.
The country's top telecommunications regulator told a staff meeting of his decision Friday morning. His impending departure was reported Thursday by several news outlets.
Genachowski, 50, was appointed in 2009 and has hewed a middle line between the desires of public-interest groups and the telecom industry, which hasn't enamored him to either side.
His tenure has seen continued adoption of broadband and ever higher Internet connection speeds, especially on the wireless side, but consumer groups saw the approval of Comcast's acquisition of NBC as a mistake, while AT&T Inc. suffered a severe blow when its acquisition of T-Mobile USA was blocked.
"For those of us who represent the public, Chairman Genachowski's term can best be described as one of missed opportunities," said public-interest group Public Knowledge. Genachowski should have done more to assert the FCC's authority over broadband, which is lightly regulated compared to the telephone, and to prevent consolidation in the industry, it said.
In an interview, Genachowski defended the FCC's 2010 order that prohibits wired Internet service providers from blocking access to websites and services.
"We put in place the first rules to protect Internet freedom and openness, and the rules are working. We're seeing increased innovation and investment in Internet applications and services and also in Internet networks and infrastructure," Genachowski said. "I believe we've established an open Internet as a business and social norm in the U.S."
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