FCC Chairman Michael Powell today confirmed multiple news reports by issuing a statement that he will resign from the agency effective some time in March, while an analyst’s report indicates fellow Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy will make a similar announcement as early as next week.

Powell, who has been an FCC commissioner for seven years and chairman for four years, indicated he would spend time with his family before pursuing a new role.

“Having completed a bold and aggressive agenda, it is time for me to pursue other opportunities and let someone else take the reins of the agency,” Powell said in a prepared statement that provided no indication of his next move.

Abernathy, Powell’s strongest ally on the commission, is expected to announce her resignation from the commission soon—possibly next week, according to Medley Global Advisors telecom analyst Jessica Zufolo.

Like Powell, Abernathy’s departure from the FCC has been a source of speculation for months. However, some Beltway sources indicated that Powell had hoped that Abernathy would succeed him as chairman instead of Republican Commissioner Kevin Martin, who opposed Powell in a high-profile proceeding regarding incumbent telephones opening their networks to competitive carries.

If Powell and Abernathy both depart, Martin would be the only experienced Republican on the FCC.

“Martin is currently viewed as the most likely replacement for Powell and may take over as acting chairman once Powell departs,” Zufolo states in her report. “Martin has an advantage over other candidates in that he could be elevated to chairman without going through a Senate confirmation process.”

Zufolo said the top candidates to fill the Republican voids—including the chairman spot—would be Becky Klein, a former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission; Michael Gallagher of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; and Earl Comstock, who was a former aide to Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Other names mentioned as possible commissioners include Janice Obuchowski, a telecom consultant who served in the Commerce Department under the first President Bush. Other names mentioned include former Interstate Commerce Commission Chairman Darius Gaskins and former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jim Miller.

Public-safety officials applauded Powell’s work on the commission, particularly in forging the deal that led to an 800 MHz order that netted additional spectrum for first responders and ensured that rebanding would not impact government entities’ budgets.

"We are sorry to hear that Chairman Powell will be stepping down," Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International International President Greg Ballentine said in a prepared statement. "He has been a strong supporter of public safety, and his leadership has been an asset for our nation's first responders and the public they serve."

Charles Werner, deputy fire chief for the Charlottesville, Va., fire department, echoed this sentiment.

“As one public safety representative, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the steadfast leadership by FCC Chairman Michael Powell regarding public safety communications,” Werner said in a prepared statement. “Without his leadership, many issues—especially 800 MHz interference—would have failed.”