FCC’s Robert McDowell, agency’s longest serving commissioner, announces intent to resign

Members of the tech and telecom world were quick to praise the record of Republican Robert McDowell, who announced Wednesday that he intends to resign after seven years on the Federal Communications Commission.

“Commissioner McDowell’s  tireless efforts to promote a free and unregulated Internet, reform Universal Service and keep the U.S. at the forefront of international telecommunications policy are just a few of his many notable accomplishments,” said Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen in a statement.

Jim Cicconi, the senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs for AT&T, credited McDowell with being “the first to sound the alarm about international efforts to regulate the Internet” and called him a “true leader” on promoting consumer interests and innovation.

Even those who were often at odds with McDowell during his tenure as a commissioner wished him the best.

“Although we often disagreed, working with Commissioner McDowell was a pleasure,” said public interest group Public Knowledge in a statement. “His willingness to hear opposing views, the intellectual rigor in his analysis, and his leadership at the WCIT made him someone we enjoyed working with.”

McDowell’s departure leaves Ajit Pai as the only Republican on the commission and is believed to pave the way for FCC chairman Julius Genachowski to announce his own expected resignation. As The Washington Post reported, nominees for both positions could end up in Congress at the same time.

McDowell announced his intention to resign at an open FCC meeting on Wednesday, saying that he will be leaving in the next few weeks. First appointed to the commission in 2006, he did not specify his future plans.

In a statement, Free Press president and chief executive Craig Aaron urged McDowell not to take a position at a company under the jurisdiction of the FCC. Free Press was a vocal critic of former FCC commissioner Meredith Baker’s 2011 decision to leave the agency and join Comcast four months after approving its merger with NBC.

“As he considers his next move, we hope he will reject the revolving door and resist becoming another FCC leader who exploits his public service to cash in at the companies he was supposed to regulate,” Aaron said, of McDowell.


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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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