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Newsflash: Nobody Much Likes FCC Boss Genachowski
Timid Politician Ignores Competitive Woes, Bandwidth Cap Issues
by Karl Bode 08:50AM Thursday Nov 29 2012
We've noted several times that FCC Boss and Obama Harvard chum Julius Genachowski desperately hopes that his FCC legacy will be the man who saved wireless, though he'll more likely be remembered for being a wishy washy politician who tried to please everybody, and in the process pleased nobody. Nothing highlights this more that a piece this week in the Washington Post, which politely insists the FCC boss has seen "mixed reviews" during his tenure at the agency.

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The Post cites a smattering of companies annoyed with Genachowski's sluggish and inconsistent behavior, and quotes several consumer advocates who argue that the FCC boss has, with a few small exceptions, been a failure at his post:
"His tenure has been nothing but a huge disappointment because he’s squandered an opportunity to give consumers the competitive communications market they deserve," Turner said. "If someone like him upholds compromise, it quickly leads to capitulation, which is what he’s done. He folds...to the pressure of big companies."
The one bright spot is the agency's rejection of the AT&T T-Mobile deal, though that deal was so awful for consumers and employees, it was going to see rejection by even the merger-loving Department of Justice anyway. Of particular interesting note in the Post piece is Genachowski's decision to scrap reclassification of ISPs as information providers, something that would have retained the FCC's authority as a much-needed consumer watchdog in the telecom sector, despite the braying of "free market" (read: those who prefer no competition or regulation because it allows them to gouge consumers) chicken littles:
In the midst of negotiations, Genachowski faced a surprise court decision in spring 2010 that cast doubt on the agency’s ability to regulate broadband Internet providers at all. Consumer groups and Web firms asked the FCC chief to reclassify Web companies as telecommunications carriers, to make it more clear that the agency had jurisdiction over Web services.

But every day, members of Congress were attacking the idea as harmful to the multi-billion-dollar industry. Wall Street analysts decried the move as a market destroyer. The last thing the chairman wanted was a legacy as a job-killer, senior staff said. Genachowski’s top legal advisors wrote up the reclassification plan. But after much pondering, he gave in to the pressure and scrapped it, according to former senior staff members.
Sometimes when you're disliked by pretty much everybody it means you're speaking hard truths and/or making hard decisions. In Genachowski's case it just means he's not very good at what he does. With his capitulation to major carriers and his total whitewashing of the sector's competitive shortcomings -- Genachowski is certainly the latter. He's a fence sitter too afraid to take real stands on tough issues, and his tenure has reflected that.

His focus has been on a wave of policies that look good but do little to nothing, whether we're talking about network neutrality rules that don't actually protect anybody or national broadband plans that ignore skyrocketing prices entirely. Despite all their braying in the Post piece, corporations have fared very well under Genachowski's tenure.

However, his list of consumer failures is long and the Post doesn't bother to even touch on most of them, from his agency's decision to ignore the problems an inaccuracy of broadband meters, to this week's decision to embrace massive media consolidation.

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Waterford, MI

Not Doing Their Job

FCC is a joke Like most other federal agencies, it's clearly not doing its job. It hasn't been doing its job for years.



3 edits

Re: Not Doing Their Job

What's indeed a joke is that like any government agency, the (R) establishment have deliberately hampered and limited their ability to do their job. For example, the post office is not allowed to modernize or drum up new business, so it inevitability suffers and fails.

These same (R) politicians, who prevent it from modernizing, turn around and disingenuously use its imminent failure as an example to support their dogma against government. Of course, they never mention how post offices around the world are extremely profitable, for example, the owner of DHL.

What do you think would happen to even you, if someone against you (ideologically), had the authority to limit you and make you work with one hand for example? Perhaps, even forcing you to complete a days worth of work, but you're only allowed to work an hour a day. You would inevitably fail and look worse off than anyone else who does not have these same limitations (i.e. private sector).

If the problem is inherently with government, then why are FCC equivalents around the world doing an outstanding job? Because they have the 'legal power' to do so and of course, they don't have a party who is determined to see them fail - country be damned.

They have setup their markets to ensure competition thrives. They ensure that a handful of broadband companies exist for one house. They ensure that a handful of wireless carriers have access to the equivalent quality spectrum. They ensure that one carrier cannot just lock your handset to them forever. They ensure that customers are reimbursed for incompetence and billing errors, while the carriers fined. etc etc etc.

All of these rational regulations and Big Gov must mean that service cost a fortune there right? Wrong! They're not only cheaper but also way faster. In reality, market after market throughout the United States is a monopoly, with 1 or less choices. We're supposed to be the richest and most powerful nation, yet our infrastructure and broadband services are ranked close to dead last in the OECD.

Greenville, TX

Re: Not Doing Their Job

Despite your various claims that are completely related to this post.... do you even keep up with the actions that the FCC takes? (or rather, doesn't take)

They're a joke. They don't do their job, they do not stand up against anybody and they're a see-saw, going back and forth.

They aren't the only federal agency that fails to do their job as well! In my opinion, the NSA doesn't do their job, and neither does homeland security. We have government spying down our backs, and we still have disasters happening. The domestic threat we have to worry about is our own government if it gets too big.. just my opinion.


2 edits

Re: Not Doing Their Job

How do you expect them to do their job when the GOP congress has limited their ability? When the industry spends tens of millions in lobbying, versus a big fat ZERO from We the People to counteract the deep pockets of the few. At the end of the day, the GOP party and Big Businesses gives lip-service to hating government, however, their mouths are stuffed full from the governmental troughs, at which to enrich their paymasters.

The Alex Jones / Ventura is strong in this one. Do you ever think for a second that this baseless paranoia that you guys have that the government is spying on you could be wrong? I mean, you have just answered you own paranoia yet fail to connect the dots.

The government is apparently spying on us, however, they have not found or prevented anything. Therefore, what does one logically and rationally conclude from this?

No compare this to efforts overseas, where terrorism is indeed proactively stopped because by it. Whereas, most of your breakthroughs come from people speaking up about it, because our agencies are inhibited.

Greenville, TX

Re: Not Doing Their Job

I wouldn't call what it a paranoia - I'm aware that they spy, and quite frankly, it's that which bothers me. I simply believe that my life should be mine, and if the government wants to know about me, they can ask. If they still want to know, sure, they can spy / snoop / get a warrant. I wouldn't be happy with it, but at least I would know they aren't just doing sweeping surveillance. It's an ethics & moral based point of view regarding the government - and simply put, I disagree with it.

There are more than just the two extremes of the political spectrum - While I think that less government is better, I disagree with a large amount of the GOP platform regarding their strict, narrow beliefs.


Re: Not Doing Their Job

America and Americans face bigger issues than some baseless paranoia about the government spying on you. The fact is that terrorism abroad has been proactively prevented from monitoring suspected activity. Whereas, over here, every gangster and organized crime outfit has rights. Hence us having the worst crime and homicide rates in the developed world.

Anyone who sits in the least regulated and most libertarian developed country on this planet and thinks we have too much government is out of touch with reality. It's along the lines of those who say we are taxed highly, when in reality, our nation collects the lowest percentage of taxes per GDP in the industrialized world.


"Strict, narrow beliefs", formerly known as "principles".



Major boon for carriers though....

Say what you want about the FCC being anti-consumer, but the carriers have had record years and stunning expansions. T-mobile fiasco aside, AT&T and VZ have benefited greatly over the last four years and are in a prime position to take advantage of a wireless data driven world thanks in large part, to the FCC's non-meddling approach.

Heck I'd even argue that sprint owes its very existence to the non-hostile environment of Genachowski's FCC over the last four years.



Re: Major boon for carriers though....

Good point.

Richmond, VA


Karl is still bummed that his #1 prediction of the Genachowski Era - that the ATT/T-Mobile merger would be approved - crashed and burned.

New York, NY

Genachowski is worst of the worst

Genachowski is a terrible FCC Chairmen. On one hand we supposedly have a spectrum crunch, but he is blocking or holding up sensible transactions that could help resolve this. He says we need more competiton in wireless yet his actions generally favor the incombents under some guise of the greater good-typical beaucratic BS. He is clearly trying to line up his next gig. Net Neutrality has no teeth....it's horribly inadequate. He's a complete failure at opening up more spectrum for 4G.

Also, LIGHTSQUARED!!!! Jesus....yet, he is holding up Dish's AWS-4 approval, which doesn't have the same intereference issues, in order to favor Sprint! haha. what a jerk. Dish's plan may impair that 5mhz, that isn't even being used but the FCC's plan would impair 5mhz of Dish's spectrum thus there is no net gain in spectrum...the FCC is simply picking winners and losers. It's just terrible...he's the worst of the worst of government beaucrats.



FCC has done a lot

I'd like to see any of you do that job better. In 4 years, working with Ds and Rs (one of very few agencies that managed to do that), Genachowski managed to change the FCC from an agency most know for nipples, to one known for its focus on technology, broadband and innovation. He got net neutrality through when most people said he couldn't or shouldn't, reformed the USF - an antiquated behemoth of a giveway to telcoms which decades of FCC chairs had avoided taking on, launched a national broadband plan, AND a spectrum auction that will generate billions of dollars in revenue for the government and free up essential bandwidth so that future generations of monday morning quarterbacks like you guys can post multi-media whine-fests from your 7G phones to whatever blogs you want in real time. And his biggest sin is that he's been too deliberate, or not aggressive enough? The WaPo article was a hack job and I'm surprised you all didn't see through that.



The FCC Chairman and the President

No one elected Obama to hand over the media to the likes of Rupert Murdoch. Yes, he donated to his campaign, but this giveaway is a doublecross to the American people. An ex-Fox executive is now running the Tribune even before Murdoch officially, though indirectly, takes over the Tribune and LA Times. There is very little he doesn't own: WSJ, Barrons, New York Post, Fox non-news, Fox movies, Fox sports, Fox business, and the list goes on; and then there's NewsMax, a deceptive right-wing rag and internet outlet. In Britain, he's considered an alleged criminal for the phonehacking, but here we bow down to him and his cronies. And he's not the only right-wing media group being handed the airwaves . What's up, Mr. President?

Hazelwood, MO

FCC is a Congress problem

The FCC was established to pass off the responsibility of maintaining the communications of the US by Congress so they did not have to directly do it themselves. This is true of EVERY regulatory or government agency.

The big problems are 1.) The people put in the power of those agencies are not there for the people, they are there to further their career and typically that means going into the very industry they are suppose to be regulating so they are paving that road. 2.) Congress doesn't want to deal with the every day mandate stuff, but they wont give up or pass on the power needed to truly regulate the industries.

Solution: 1.) The people put in power at the agencies can't work in or for the industry afterwards, this include lobbying. Make conflicts of interest punishable under law both criminally and civilly. 2.) Congress gives the agencies the power needed to fully regulate the industry, or they don't create an agency to do it on their behalf to begin with.

New York, NY

Genachowski era will be considered a disaster for US tech

Many years from now, people will point to the Genachowski era as a disaster for US tech leadership. He is an incompetent, two-faced govt beaucrat...he's a ladder climber and is lining up his next big gig. He knows he can't make enemies of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and the 4 top broadcasters since they have the most political clout.

Obama needs tyo replace him ASAP!