A Farewell to Powell

So Michael Powell is reportedly going to announce his resignation as FCC Chairman today. This is a surprise to no one in the telecom policy world. Powell has been Chairman longer than most, and has taken quite a few arrows in his back. It was always assumed he’d leave shortly after Bush’s re-election.

I’ve known Powell since he first joined the Commission, in late 1997. I have great respect for him as a person, and as a policy-maker. As I’ve written, he isn’t the deregulatory ideologue that so many make him out to be. Even I must admit, though, that his record as FCC Chairman is mixed. Many important proceedings, including the one covering voice over IP and crucial spectrum policy reforms, reamin unfinished.

I wish Michael well. It will be interesting to see what he does next; I’m confident we haven’t heard the last of him. And I’m very curious who will be his successor. Given the politics of FCC confirmations, it could be months before someone is confirmed. It’s unlikely that the next FCC Chairman will make any radical changes in direction, although they will bring a different style and areas of focus to the position. Even Powell’s critics have to admit that he knows, and cares a lot about, emerging technologies. I hope the same can be said of his replacement.