RealTime IT News

Abernathy Resigns From FCC

Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy said she plans to leave the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Dec. 9. Her long anticipated decision to resign may, at least temporarily, leave Chairman Kevin Martin as the only Republican on the five-person panel.

When Michael Powell resigned as chairman of the FCC in March, Martin, then an FCC commissioner, was promoted by President Bush to chairman. Last week, Bush nominated Tennessee regulator Deborah Taylor Tate to fill Martin's vacant seat, but the Senate has not yet confirmed her.

With Abernathy gone and Tate unconfirmed, the December FCC open meeting is likely to have only Martin and Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein sitting on the panel.

"During my four and a half year tenure the Commission has achieved a great deal," Abernathy said in a statement. "First and foremost, our decisions increasingly reflect the wisdom of relying on competition, rather than regulation, as the best means of assuring that consumers get the telecommunications services they want at affordable rates."

Abernathy served during a turbulent time at the FCC where technology often outraced regulations. The agency was frequently taken to court over a wide range of FCC rulings involving incumbent telephone companies and cable firms.

"Implicit in the Commission's competition-oriented approach to telecommunications regulation is a recognition of the fact that competition is a journey," she said. "It is a journey in which there are winners and losers, change and upheaval, and no clear destination where all things are settled and all competitors are satisfied."

Abernathy added, "Our effort to create greater regulatory symmetry between cable and telephone company providers of advanced high-speed broadband networks is but one example of that process."

Bush nominated Abernathy to serve at the FCC in 2001. Prior to joining to the FCC, she worked in the private sector as vice president of public policy at BroadBand Office Communications and vice president fore regulatory affairs at U.S. West.

She also previously worked at the FCC as telecommunications legal advisor to FCC Chairman James H. Quello, legal advisor to Commissioner Sherrie P. Marshall and special assistant to the FCC's general counsel.

"All of our successes, and even our failures, demonstrate one fundamental truth: that regulation is most effective when it deals with markets as they are -- not as they might once have been, and not as we would ideally like them to be," she said.