Last week Congress delayed the confirmation hearings for Julius Genachowski, who was nominated as the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, until after the Memorial Day congressional recess. Apparently there’s some political wrangling happening here because traditionally the Republican nominees are also in place for the confirmation hearings so the new FCC can get down to business right away. However, there are no Republican nominees yet, hence the delay. What, there isn’t anyone as qualified as previous commissioner Deborah “I-issue-press-releases-about-the -sodium-content-in-canned-soups” Tate? I find that hard to believe.
Meanwhile, in the months since Genachowski has seen his name floated as top choice, and we issued our recommendations for his tenure:
- the government has set in plan legislation that will spend $7.2 billion on broadband access,
- the FCC called for comments on a national broadband plan,
- Congress allocated $350 million to map out broadband penetration without even having an actual definition of broadband that fits the times,
- the nation watched Time Warner Cable attempt to expand (and then retract) its metered broadband pricing efforts,
- the industry has seen the number of landlines fall by more than 1.6 million and watched AT&T and Verizon both get bigger.
If we all accept that broadband will be the platform for future innovation, then Washington is currently wasting time issuing decrees about the appropriate name for swine flu when it should be pushing for Republican nominees and getting a new FCC in place to start tackling some of these issues before we move further behind as a country. The deadline for a national broadband plan is next February, for crying out loud.