Blog Post

Freaky Friday, Michael Powell Calls it Quits

Wow…. this came from the left field. FCC Chairman Michael Powell has resigned, and that means VoIP has lost one of its closest allies in Washington DC, and has fought for the rights of the upstarts harder than anyone on the Beltway. This could cast a pall of gloom over the VoIP industry, and I suspect, the little guys will have tough time finding such a supporter. Obviously, this is good news for the Bells and other incumbents. I suspect, the incoming chairperson, whosoever he/she might be, will have their own point of view on all the new technology. David Isenberg says we are “losing a true frienemy.”

Adam Thierer, of the CATO Institute sums it up beautifully when he writes, “The free market lost a friend Friday and, believe it or not, it’s a regulator. He will be sorely missed because he is the rarest of species—a rational regulator who genuinely believes in the superiority of markets over mandates and capitalism over central planning.” I might have not liked Powell policies and thinking, but I respect some of the efforts he was making.

When it came to telecom and broadband policy, Powell’s vision has been equally clear: “I believe strongly that broadband should exist in a minimally regulated space.” He attempted to push through numerous reforms to achieve that vision but was directly thwarted on one important deregulatory initiative by fellow Republican Commissioner Kevin Martin, who cast his vote with the Commission’s Democrats in favor of expanded regulatory oversight by state regulators. Of course, it doesn’t help that Powell’s superiors in the Bush Administration have never lent any serious support to the reforms he has proposed. The Bush team was content to talk a big game when it came to broadband deployment and telecom deregulation but then let Powell take all the heat when it came to the controversial steps needed to get us there. [CATO Technknowledge]

CNN/Money reports that Howard Stern is ecstatic over his resignation, because the two had a spat over what was tantamount to censorship. The networks, however shouldn’t rejoice that much because we are still in the Bush era, and the incoming chairperson actually be more aligned with the republican policies than Michael Powell “The Atlanta Journal Constitution speculated late last year he is interested in a run for governor of Virginia, although he had declined to comment on his plans when questioned by the press several times last year,” adds CNN/Money. More on who replaces Michael Powell.