Posts Tagged ‘Julius Genachowski’
What can the Obama Administration do for HD Communications? A look back at what Vice President Al Gore did before he won his Nobel Prize provides some clues.
Back in 1994, Al was the point many for “Reinventing Government” As a part of his mission, he put a “date certain” marker down for all of the executive agencies of the government to establish an internet presence by the fall of 1994. Needless to say, this action lit a fire under a lot of organizations who went out and put up websites, ranging to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to the Central Intelligence Agency. Nobody wanted to make Al or his acolytes unhappy.
When October 1, 2004 rolled around, government agencies were bragging about their shiny new websites and Internet connectivity. As a net result, the (U.S.) open standards-based Internet suddenly had a lot more intrinsic value for private industry, academia, and individual citizens. Subsequent administrations and Congresses, have continued to build upon that base, trying to out do the previous generation as to who has the coolest toys.
Back to the question of the day: What can the Obama Administration do for HD Communications?
With all due respect to the current Amtrak-loving Vice President, Joe Biden is no Al Gore when it comes to carrying the torch of technological advancement. Fortunately, President Obama has nominated both a national CTO and a well-admired Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both have roles to play.
Aneesh Chopra, the nation’s CTO, will be responsible for promoting technology innovation including “national strategies for using advanced technologies to transform our economy and our society, such as fostering private sector innovation, reducing administrative costs and medical errors using health IT, and using technology to change the way teachers teach and students learn.”
HD voice = advanced technology to transform the way we communicate. Perfect fit.
Chopra could state the obvious:Existing technology for voice phone calls is in need of an upgrade, so the federal government and the organizations that work with it should all adopt G.722 as the standard way it conducts broadband voice communications by some date certain, starting with conference calls and working all the way down to individual departments and offices. Simply switching to VoIP provides a base for other apps, but HD Communications provides an uplift in quality that should improve communications between government agencies, and ultimately between other nations; after all, the French, British, Germans, and Italians are all implementing HD voice in the form of G.722.
The White House should be the first organization to go “All G,” providing a suitable example and incentive for other agencies to make the move up to HD Voice. It’ll make a good complement to go with the secure BlackBerry.
The FCC is the point agency for a creating and implementing a national broadband policy, so Julius Genachowski and the FCC’s broadband’s main man, Blair Levin, can incorporate and trumpet the use of HD voice and G.722 in the creation of said policy. The FCC may have to provide some suggestion/clue/encouragement by service providers to interoperate, but hopefully such mechanisms/suggestions will be relatively loose and not require a Big Club or a complex settlements formula.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman nominee Julius Genachowski got the typical Capital Hill posturing lectures today at his confirmation hearing, but appears to be on track to be confirmed with Senate Commerce Committee leadership homing for a confirmation vote before July 4.
Democratic Senators seemed to be more on point to delivery lectures more appropriate for former Chairman Kevin Martin. “”Fix the agency or we will fix it for you,” said Senator John Rockefeller ( D-W.Va.), “Prove to us that the FCC is not battered beyond repair.” Senator Bryon Dorgan (D-N.D.) also chimed in with “It seems to me that you will lead a rather unhealthy agency. We’ve been through a period of substantial secrecy.”
For his part, Genachowski stuck to happy script sound bites, such as telling Rockefeller “The FCC should be a model for transparency, openness and fairness” and saying he would bring “common sense” to government rule-making and that the FCC can serve as a model for “excellence in government” through “open, fair and data-driven processes.” (The ghost of Kevin Martin wasn’t known for open processes).
Robert McDowell also appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday for his confirmation hearing. McDowell is the Republican “bundled” into this set of hearings and is up for his second term as a FCC Commissioner. McDowell is known as a free-market guy, but has demonstrated a more collegial approach to working out issues than Martin.
Last week, Blair Levin officially returned to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to “help coordinate its development of a national broadband plan,” saith acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. But let’s be honest, Blair probably already had a reserved parking space over there given his involvement in the Obama transition team on tech policy, working hand-in-hand with FCC Chairman-in-waiting Julius Genachowski. What might this mean — if anything — for HD Communications and Jeff Pulver’s plan to submit a petition this fall for upgrading phone call voice quality in the United States?
Levin is no stranger to the FCC. He was chief of staff for former FCC chairman Reed Hundt between 1993 and 1997 and got the nickname the “the sixth chairman” during the days of rewriting and implementing telecom policy.
More recently, Levin was one of the two strongest names for a potential nominee as FCC Chairman and the favorite of the telecom policy wonk set. My personal opinion is that Genachowski probably is a better basketball player — Levin being partial to baseball — and got the nod to be nominated for chairman.
Even after Genachowski became the leaked/obvious favorite as Obama’s FCC Chairman, Levin kept on popping up in public places talking about national broadband policy.
In January, Levin appeared at the “”State of the Net” Conference event organized by the advisory committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus to spell out how broadband involvement would play out in the economic stimulus package and how broadband stimulus would work moving forward. He explained that what would happen in the an economy recovery package was something that was designed to be timely, targeted and temporary to create jobs, using existing bureaucratic mechanisms to distribute funding. More innovative programs would have to wait.
Since Levin is now point man for the development of a national broadband plan, it is likely we will see some “innovation” on the table as he builds a comprehensive national broadband policy — and I suspect, despite the worrying over at GigaOm, intelligent people have been working on the problem before announcement have been made.
Does innovation mean raising the bar for phone call quality beyond 1937-era technology?
It is an interesting question. Levin is a free market guy at heart, but I suspect he’d also like to raise the bar if it falls into line with delivering faster broadband to more underserved and unserved communities.
FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has been nominated for a second term by President Barak Obama. Now maybe the Republicans can stop stalling and start voting to approve him and FCC Chairman nominee Julius Genachowski already.
According to reports floating around since Genachowski was nominated, the Republican leadership and/or Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) didn’t want to vote on Genachowski and other FCC Democratic nominees until they had “pairs” of Republicans to approve at the same time. Trouble was the Republicans either couldn’t agree or weren’t ready to nominate their own people, so the process of approving Genachowski has been stalled.
Now it appears Genachowski will get his day on Capital Hill later this month, along with McDowell. A second pairs hearing of Democratic nominee Migon Clyburn and former NTIA head Meredith Baker is expected further down the road and should prove to be interesting given Clyburn’s relative inexperience with spectrum issues and Baker’s involvement with the DTV coupon box program and its associated delays.
McDowell, a Republican and Bush-era appointed commissioner, was first confirmed by the Senate in June 2006 and had been the senior VP and assistant general counsel for COMPTEL and had represented competitors to AT&T, so he recused himself from voting on the AT&T/Bell South merger before the commission.
When FCC Commissioners were deadlocked 2-2 in December 2006 to approve the merger, Martin asked McDowell to vote to break the tie and the FCC General Counsel issued a memo saying the government’s “significant interest” in the merger outweighed the appearance of a personal conflict. Once again, McDowell disqualified himself from participating.
Two week later, AT&T, Bell South and the FCC worked out terms and the FCC voted to approve the merger 4-0 on December 29, 2006. McDowell stood his ground and stuck to his principles. Don’t find that often in Washington D.C. Unsurprisingly, AT&T reportedly wasn’t in favor of McDowell getting a second term; be interesting to hear the off-the-record story on why McDowell got the thumbs up all of a sudden.
An interview I did with McDowell for (the original) VON Magazine in April 2007 is still available on line.
Sascha Meinrath, one of New America’s telecommunications wonks, has taken a dim view of FCC commissioner nominee Mignon Clyburn. “A Disaster for the Public Interest?” is the title of his blog post and he says everyone he’s talked to has been deeply concerned that Ms. Clyburn is too much in thrall with the big phone companies and having her around will prevent any meaningful telecom reforms.
Apparently, Sascha and his buds on the Obama transition Technology, Media, & Telecom advisory committee were looking forward to a lot of reform once the new FCC was in place, but appointing Clyburn appares to be a classic Washington politics move. It can’t be a good thing that cable and broadcast are both enthused for her nomination and there’s very little on the public record discussing Ms. Clyburn’s positions on key telecom issues, says Sascha, not to mention her lack of experience in the area and the word on the street that she couldn’t land a job at the Department of Energy.
Be interesting to see how this plays out against the larger backdrop of the delays in getting Mr G.,Julius Genachowski, up to his confirmation hearing as FCC Chairman due to Republican gamesmanship while they try to figure out who they want to nominate for their Chairman slots.
Sources: Sascha Meinrath blog.
Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee announced it would hold a confirmation hearing for Mr. G, Julius Genachowski, to move forward on his nomination to be chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Today, the hearing was canceled.
If you are asking “WTF?,” join the club.
Apparently, says a Wall Street Journal blog and various other mutterings of sources around Capital Hill, the Republicans threatened to boycott the hearing because lawmakers want a REPUBLICAN FCC commissioner to be bundled with Genachowski’s hearing. A new hearing won’t be scheduled until after Memorial day, thereby further delaying the process.
Of course, the Republican leadership hasn’t announced a candidate for the Republican spot on the commission. Senators are also talking about kicking Robert McDowell — one of the more honorable personages to hold a commission seat, IMHO — to the curb, which is creating further behind-the scenes machinations.
Former Commerce Department official and daughter-in-law of former Bush Secretary of State James Baker Meredith Attwell Baker appears to be the favorite pick of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, ranking member of the Commerce Committee.
McDowell’s term is up in June. Apparently AT&T lobbyists, lead by a former crony of former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, want “a new slate” and since McDowell recused himself from voting on the AT&T/Bell South merger — despite pressure from Martin — now is the best time for new faces.
Doesn’t hurt tha Dallas-based AT&T contributed $44,300 in various campaign contributions to Ms. Hutchinson, who is looking to run for govenor of Texas.
The delay in approving a new commissioner at the FCC is slowing things down, since acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps is focusing on the DTV transition and doesn’t want to set policy on other issues since he knows Julius is waiting in the wings. The not-so-little matter of a national broadband plan the FCC must produce by February looms large.
Best source: Wall Street Journal blog post.
Mr. G’s string of bad luck continues.
Nominated for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman, Julius Genachowski was scheduled for a Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing on May 12. But the Republicans apparently don’t want a hearing until they can pair up their nominees with the Democratic selections.
The latest date for a hearing — assuming the Republican leadership can get its act together and some candidates nominated — is set for after the Memorial Day break.
Mr. G, Julius Genachowski, is finally getting a hearing next week on Capitol Hill. The nominee for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman will go before the Senate Commerce Committee on May 12.
Genachowski hasn’t had a smooth ride so far. First, there was a delay in announcing him for the position — most likely due to the cabinet-level nominees before him not paying their taxes correctly — and then his nomination been logjammed by pissed-off Republicans fretting about something or another… couple of weeks ago there was rumor floating around around that they would hold up the hearing until August…
ANYWAY, this all seems to be behind us now and Genachowski will get the chance to answer questions on May 12.