Noted telecom venture capitalist, lobbyist tapped to replace outgoing FCC chair

As recorded's sister site, Lightwave, President Barack Obama has nominated telecom veteran, lobbyist, and venture capitalist Thomas Wheeler to replace the outgoing Julius Genachowski as chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Genachowski’s tenure with the FCC may be remembered mostly for his efforts to extend broadband access to unserved and underserved areas, as exemplified by his work to transform the Universal Service Fund into the Connect America Fund, as previously reported by Lightwave. Genachowski was also a supporter of net neutrality.

“Now, if anybody is wondering about Tom’s qualifications, Tom is the only member of both the cable television and the wireless industry hall of fame,” said the President, in a speech in which he discussed the nomination. “So he’s like...the Bo Jackson of telecom."

See also:TIA calls on President Obama for renewed telecom focus

Communications industry associations have been quick to line up in support of Wheeler's nomination.

TIA applauds the pending nomination of Tom Wheeler to chair the FCC,” commented the association’s president, Grant Seiffert. “He has the proven ability to transcend a broad range of industry perspectives to reach balanced outcomes," said Seiffert. "Given that one of the most important challenges facing the FCC will be assuring a successful television spectrum incentive auction, Wheeler's breadth of experience makes him especially well-suited to lead the FCC at this time.”

USTelecom president and CEO Walter B. McCormick Jr. had this to say: “Tom Wheeler is an extraordinary choice to head the Federal Communications Commission -- a leader of industry; an architect of communications policy; an innovator in the use of telecommunications technologies to advance education, health care, and the environment."

“While much of his background is in business, his record is one marked by service to others, and his career has been distinguished by success in coupling enterprise with initiatives to lift the less fortunate," added McCormick. "It is commendable that he is willing to take on the rigorous duties of the Chairmanship, adding to his previous record of public service as an advisor to the President and to the FCC. We urge the Senate to act expeditiously, and favorably, on his nomination.”

The President also designated FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, as acting chair while Wheeler undergoes confirmation hearings in the Senate.

Related: FCC urged to advance all-fiber upgrades over legacy copper networks

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