When land mobile issues are brought before the new commission, Powell’s standards and attitudes can be expected to apply to our segment as well.
The new chairman of the FCC has earned some respect. Some were dismissive of Michael K. Powell’s appointment as an FCC commissioner. Despite his service as chief of staff of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, common criticisms of the nomination were “little communications experience,” “obligatory minority appointment,” and “connected family.” Improbably, these points became advantages.
Powell-the-lawyer views the FCC as a regulatory agency with tasks assigned by Congress, rather than as an agent for social change (novel concept). His ethnicity makes him sensitive to needs of designated entities, but also gives him cachet to criticize entitlements that undermine existing small businesses. Powell the former cavalry officer, and scion of a respected leader, curiously values straight talk and public duty.
The principles Powell has articulated over three years bode well for our industry — if it speaks the same language back to him.
In public statements and commission votes, he has been a skeptic of market and technological rhetoric, or, as he puts it, “techno-euphoria.” He thinks regulators should avoid picking technology winners and second-guessing consumers.
A free-market advocate, Powell argues that policymakers should avoid ‘big guy myopia’ and not lose sight of smaller telecommunications companies. He likes quick and decisive regulatory decisions. Powell opposes the FCC’s generating rules without specific authority. He has a jaundiced view of intervention, noting that “When a regulatory agency has to make up its own acronym to describe a product or service it intends to regulate, one should be concerned.”
Powell’s designation as chairman shows an absence of a Bush administration “telecom agenda.” Otherwise, the new president would have installed his own advocate. This is good. Powell publicly criticized FCC politicization during the Kennard years. He understands what the term “independent regulatory agency” means.
He can also be funny and diffident about the commission. Anyone who makes references to Dr. Seuss, Monty Python and Frankenstein’s monster in his statements, dissents and speeches is not likely to promote himself as the Delphi oracle of telecom, as past chairmen have.
Now, none of this indicates that our industry segment’s interests concern the new chairman. However, when our issues are brought before the new commission, his standards and attitudes regarding other bureaus can be expected to apply to our segment as well.
Land mobile’s challenge will be avoiding the chairman’s aversion to special interests and protectionism for outdated technologies. It will have to consistently advance evidence, not emotionalism, that the systems it employs and the services that it offers have not been eclipsed by betterititive and can still serve the best public interests of the telecommunications consumer, industrial production and public safety.
If Powell hears that, land mobile will have friends in high places.