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That's Chairman Kev, to You...

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
3/16/2005
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U.S. President George "W" Bush announced his intention to designate FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin as the new Chairman of the FCC today. Martin will replace the outgoing [ed. note: not to say "vivacious"] Michael Powell.

The youthful-looking North Carolina native, in one of his more whimsical interviews a few years ago, told Light Reading that he sometimes gets carded at the FCC cafeteria and that he doesn't necessarily look older with facial hair (see Kevin J. Martin).

Martin was appointed to the FCC in July 2001 for a term that runs until June 2006. He came to the FCC from the White House, where he served as a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and was on the staff of the National Economic Council. In that capacity, he focused primarily on commerce and technology policy issues.

In 2003, Martin and Chairman Powell famously locked horns over UNE-P -- Powell backed the RBOCs that stand against it, but Martin voted to keep it. Powell was roundly criticized when fellow Republican Martin sided with the Democrats against Powell's attempt to abandon the rules that require incumbent carriers to allow competitors access to key network elements at wholesale prices. (See Powell Loses FCC Vote, FCC's Martin: Ruling 'Balanced', FCC Rumbles on the Rules , and FCC Chairman Explains 'Sideshow'.)

The industry appears to be cheering Martin's appointment so far, as carriers, vendors, and lobbying groups are firing off congratulatory [ed. note: not to say "toadying"] press releases at an unprecedented pace (see New FCC Chair Welcomed).

Indeed, some perceive that Martin's unpredictable voting record is evidence that he doesn't make up his mind until after all facts are heard.

"He is very open-minded and he has never gone into any proceeding with a predetermined idea of they way it should turn out," says Jonathan Lee, director of regulatory affairs at CompTel/Ascent Alliance, a Washington-based lobby for the CLECs. "He is a great choice -- maybe we'll get away from outcome-oriented decision making that goes on over there.

"A lot of people think that on a given issue Powell told people in the bureau where he wanted to go with a given issue based on his own ideas of where things need to go," Lee says. "He was more willing to make policy based on his own personal views, while Commissioner Martin will rely more on the facts."

In a way, the appointment is reflective of the seemingly softened partisan [ed. note: not to say "pugnacious"] posture of the Bush Administration since the election.

During his term, Powell has gone to great lengths to keep VOIP and other IP-based services from being stifled by regulation. And most believe that the commission's stance on technology will continue.

In addition to dealing with the classification of VOIP services, finalizing the rules surrounding inter-carrier compensation, and enforcing Byzantine indecency standards, Martin will be busy presiding over other thorny communications issues, such as the reform of Universal Service (see Rural Carriers Circle the Wagons).

Still, some see Martin's appointment as positive in that it's not too big a departure from Powell's chairmanship.

"It's hard to say if the tenor of the policymaking will change in the long term," says Vonage Holdings Corp. spokeswoman Brooke Shultz. "But the idea is that Martin will give us continuity in the next six months and continue the perpetual motion of the Commission."

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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lastmile
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lastmile,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:23:04 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
Politics and Technology can never mix.
The market will decide the future of tech.
The FCC is a political establishment.
They always try to show that they love the consumer and the best way they show their love for us is after the market decides what the consumer really wants.
When some new technology (like VOIP) makes an impact in the day to day life of the average human the FCC takes the credit by telling every Tom Dick & Harry that they were really responsible for the progress for this new form of communication.
That is what the FCC is all about.
It really does not matter who the Chairman is.
falsecut
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falsecut,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:23:00 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
What a naive way of looking at things. Of course it matters. While companies may come up with consumer solutions, if they are taxed, regulated, or otherwise handled in a way that a company feels that the costs of complying with the government obligations is greater than the benefits to the customer, the offer will change.

The UNE-P squabble is a great example of this. Agree or disagree with the regulation, many business strategies were changed as a result of the order. Had the order gone the other way, the dynamics of the industry would now be different. Pretending it doesn't matter is really ignoring the facts.
lastmile
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lastmile,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:58 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
falsecut:
Fact #1.The US lagging behind in broadband. We hold the distinguished 12th position.
Fact #2.Since the beginning of 2001, the communications sector has been a disappointing segment of the national economy.
Fact #3.Neither Congress nor the Federal Communications Commission has been able to change the downward trends or mood in the sector.
Fact #4.Do you still feel that the same 'old member of the same team' will make a difference?
Fact #5. I think not because I am navie.
spelurker
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spelurker,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:58 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
> Fact #1.The US lagging behind in broadband.
> We hold the distinguished 12th position.

I've seen the TV ad which claims this. I find it fascinating that the RBOCs who are whining about this are the very organizations which could have done the most about it.
In the US, cable broadband is king, but everywhere else it's DSL. If the RBOCs really wanted to do DSL, they'd have it. Other nations have proved this.
Admittedly, many of the other 11 nations have had specific government subsidies but the difference is striking nonetheless.
falsecut
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falsecut,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:53 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
"Fact #1.The US lagging behind in broadband. We hold the distinguished 12th position." The LECs will tell you that they have not invested because of poor government policies, e.g. forcing them to share facilities with competitors. Believe them or not, it is this reason given for their lack of deployment. In other words, it is government policies that they say has stifled their ability to bring broadband to a larger segment of the consumer marketplace. They would contradict your first assertion, "The market will decide the future of tech." To hear them tell it, the market is clamoring for it but government has prevented it.

"Fact #2.Since the beginning of 2001, the communications sector has been a disappointing segment of the national economy.
Fact #3.Neither Congress nor the Federal Communications Commission has been able to change the downward trends or mood in the sector." Many would argue that they have done little to stimulate it and it is because of, not in spite of, the FCCs actions that the sector is in the dumps. I would say that it is too many competitors chasing too few customer dollars. Certainly, there are structural issues that the government is not helping.

"Fact #4.Do you still feel that the same 'old member of the same team' will make a difference?" The views of Martin and Powell are in sharp contrast. The fact is that there will only be four 'old members'. Somebody will replace Powell and if that person is his polar opposite, it will change the dynamics of the FCC. Remember that many decisions were 3-2, with Martin being part of the 'two' and Powell part of the 'three'.

"Fact #5. I think not because I am navie." Um, you lost me here. You don't think because you are naive? You think you are not naive?
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:52 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
It really does not matter who the Chairman is.

I think it does matter. I'm optimistic about Commissioner Martin becoming the chairman. I don't know why, but while Chairman Powell seemed more interested in his personal public appearances than he did in getting the policy right, I intuitively believe Martin will think deeply about policy. Time will tell.

Did anybody see the Charlie Rose interview with Chairman Powell? Powell's memory of his father's words before leaving to serve in Germany was something like, "Make sure you take care of our troops." What father would say something like that when his son is leaving? A departing son wants (needs?) to feel the love of a father rather than his high expectations.

Lesson to me is that we should take care of our children first and only then can they grow to fulfill their complete potentials. I don't know anything about Martin's upbringing. Hopefully it was done in a way such that he's now ready and able to serve the public interest.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:52 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
The LECs will tell you that they have not invested because of poor government policies.

Whenever we hear an ILEC excuse for under performance we need to come up with an appropriate response. Blah, blah, blah, blah would be my first reaction though I don't know that that would help.
lastmile
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lastmile,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:50 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
Just a friendly discussion:
falsecut:
"Fact #1.The US lagging behind in broadband. We hold the distinguished 12th position."
"Fact #2.Since the beginning of 2001, the communications sector has been a disappointing segment of the national economy.
Fact #3.Neither Congress nor the Federal Communications Commission has been able to change the downward trends or mood in the sector"
"Fact #4.Do you still feel that the same 'old member of the same team' will make a difference?"

Your said: 'I would say that it is too many competitors chasing too few customer dollars. Certainly, there are structural issues that the government is not helping'
This is exactly what I am also trying to say but unfortunately I am unable to express myself equally well.
Elsewhere in the world the issues are the same. 'too many competitors chasing too few customer dollars' yet we hold the distinguished 12th place.
The FCC is a superficial establishment and I am convinced that their existence continues to create confusion for a quick and sustained recovery of this sector.
My fact#5 made no sense. To me the FCC makes no sense.
I travel often and I have seen the world. I can see a distinct difference between the US and the rest of the world with respect to broadband connectivity. About 10 years ago it was the other way around. Something is wrong somewhere and I am of the opinion that politics plays a substantial role in curbing competition. I would classify the FCC as 'non customer/user' friendly.
That is why I keep saying a new chairman will make no difference.


falsecut
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falsecut,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:33 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
"Something is wrong somewhere and I am of the opinion that politics plays a substantial role in curbing competition. I would classify the FCC as 'non customer/user' friendly. That is why I keep saying a new chairman will make no difference."

If by customer, you mean the average Joe, I would say that anymore our entire government is not customer friendly. Large businesses rule the roost. Little guy be damned. But whether or not you think it "makes a difference" I suppose depends on how pessimistic you are overall. I'd like to think that somebody can bring some fairness into the process. That may make me naive.
lastmile
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lastmile,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:22:29 AM
re: That's Chairman Kev, to You...
There's no fun in just 'you' and 'me' being involved in this discussion. The fact that very few people participated is because no one seems to really care about the change in the regime at FCC.
My pessimism was based on facts and not fiction.
'The US lagging behind in broadband. We hold the distinguished 12th position'
With your blessings we may reach the 11th place but I doubt it.
And if that really happens please do not credit the FCC for that achievement.
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