What makes him powerful: Since he was named chairman of the FCC in 2009, Julius Genachowski has set forth an ambitious agenda to expand the reach of broadband. And despite some setbacks, he is still a powerful force in the industry.
While wireless operators may not agree with Genachowski's actions, he is an agent of change. Indeed, the FCC under his watch said the wireless industry is not "effectively competitive." The commission, in its annual report on the state of wireless competition, did not say the industry is uncompetitive, but instead took a neutral stance.
Genachowski has been consumed with finalizing and executing the FCC's national broadband plan. Although it is an ambitious plan, Genachowski believes that a focused agenda is needed to increase broadband penetration. Some critics have argued that the plan is not specific enough, but Genachowski has already made strides in fulfilling one of the key goals of the plan--freeing 300 MHz of spectrum within the next five years for mobile broadband.
Recently, the FCC initiated another wireless-related debate when it voted to seek comment on whether to require wireless carriers to provide usage alerts and related information to subscribers. The action is part of an effort to help wireless users avoid unexpectedly high wireless bills.
But Genachowski's biggest push--crafting net neutrality rules for wired and wireless networks--lost steam following a federal court ruling in April that cast doubt on the FCC's legal authority to regulate broadband. Nevertheless, the commission is trying to devise a way forward with the initiative.
Despite the setback on net neutrality, Genachowski is pushing the commission forward on some key wireless initiatives that will have a big impact on the industry. Regardless of whether wireless operators agree with his position, he is definitely a force to watch in the year ahead. --Phil