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Change in FCC Head May Set Back VoIP, BPL

Alan Breznick
1/24/2005

The imminent departure of FCC Chairman Michael Powell may not be good news for voice-over-IP (VoIP) providers, broadband over powerline (BPL) stalwarts and other backers of emerging technologies. That's because Powell, in his four-year reign at the FCC, championed VoIP, BPL, wireless and other new broadband technologies as ways to break the two-line stranglehold that the wireline phone and cable industries now have on U.S. homes. It's not clear if whoever replaces Powell, a self-proclaimed technophile, will have the same enthusiasm for new, alternative technologies. In a move that had been rumored for months, Powell announced Friday that he will step down from his post sometime in March. Possible successors include fellow FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin, former Texas PUC Chairman Rebecca Klein and NTIA Director Michael Gallagher, among others. In a related move, Kenneth Ferree, chief of the FCC's Media Bureau and a close associate of Powell's, reportedly told staffers earlier today that he also plans to leave the Commission in early March. There's no word yet on who might succeed Ferree.

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