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FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Announces Resignation

01/21/2009

The Aspen Institute, a non-partisan think-tank, announced today that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will join their group as a Senior Fellow in the Communications and Society Program on Tuesday, January 20, immediately upon his departure from the FCC. According to the Institute, Martin will be the fourth consecutive FCC Chairman to make the move to the group: Democrats Reed Hundt (1993-97) and William Kennard (1997-2001), as well as Republican Michael Powell (2001-05) have accepted fellowships with the Institute upon leaving the FCC. Julius Genachowski is expected to succeed Martin at the FCC.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said that Martin's resignation is part of the "usual stuff we see when a new administration comes to office. We look forward to a positive relationship with the new Chairman and his administration."

In his letter of resignation to President Bush, Martin wrote, "I have had the privilege of serving at the Federal Communications Commission for almost eight years, including four years as the agency's Chairman. During this period, we have seen a telecommunications industry undergoing rapid and unprecedented change. As a result of the market-oriented and consumer focused policies we have pursued the American people are now reaping the rewards of convergence and the broadband revolution including new and more innovative technologies and services at ever-declining prices."

Chairman Martin stated that his philosophy during his tenure at the FCC "has been to pursue deregulation while paying close attention to its impact on consumers and the particulars of a given market, to balance deregulation with consumer protection." He said that he "approached his decisions with a fundamental belief that a robust, competitive marketplace, not regulation, is ultimately the best protector of the public interest and the best method of delivering the benefits of choice, innovation, and affordability to American consumers."

Martin said that during his tenure at the FCC, "the Commission has focused on establishing the appropriate regulatory environment that achieves the right balance between two competing interests: To encourage investment in communications infrastructure, and to make sure consumers and innovation are not unintentionally or intentionally disadvantaged by the owners of that infrastructure."

Martin was a strong advocate of BPL technology, as was his predecessor, Michael Powell, but the limited number of BPL deployments show that BPL is not the success story it was hoped to be. "The technical problems of trying to get BPL to run reliably on wires that were never intended to carry high-speed digital signals make BPL less reliable than other technologies," said ARRL Laboratory Manager and BPL expert Ed Hare, W1RFI. "When coupled with poor rules that encouraged interference problems, BPL was given a poor start that it has never completely overcome." The ARRL has never been opposed to BPL per se, except when the technology causes harmful interference to the Amateur Radio Service.

Under his chairmanship, Martin said the Commission "acted to level the playing field so that all entrants could fairly compete, facilitating increased investment in the next generation of communications infrastructure, [while at the same time, I] was able to push for more open platforms to spur innovation on the edges of these networks and deliver lower prices, improved services and greater choice to consumers."

Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Communications and Society Program Charles Firestone said that "Chairman Martin has been a longtime participant in Aspen Institute forums. We look forward to working with him and to the advice he will give us." Martin said he, too, looks forward to his time with the Institute: "I have long enjoyed and respected the Communications and Society Program, and I will relish the opportunity to reflect on the nature of leadership that I exercised in this field for the past several years." According to their Web site, The Aspen Institute is based in Washington, DC, Colorado and Maryland.



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