Chairman Genachowski's Remarks on Announcing Plans to Step Down
PREPARED REMARKS OF FCC CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI“STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI ANNOUNCING PLANS TO
COMMISSION MEETING ROOM
MARCH 22, 2013Good morning. I called this all-hands meeting of FCC employees because I have an important
announcement to make.
I’m tied for first place in the FCC’s March Madness pool.
While I have everyone together, I do have another announcement to make.
In March 2009, President Obama nominated me to lead this great agency. It’s been a profound
honor and great privilege to serve in this post for the last four years.
Today, I’m announcing that I’ll be stepping down as FCC Chairman in the coming weeks.
I didn’t ask you here today to say goodbye. We’ll be working together a little while longer, and
there’ll be other opportunities for farewells.
I asked you here because I want to say thank you – thanks to each and every one of you who is
part of this wonderful FCC family. Knowing your talent and dedication, I believed from day one
that, working together, we could get big things done for our country. And thanks to you, we
Over the past four years, we’ve focused the FCC on broadband, wired and wireless, working to
drive economic growth and improve the lives of all Americans.
And thanks to you, the Commission’s employees, we’ve taken big steps to build a future where
broadband is ubiquitous and bandwidth is abundant, where innovation and investment are
To connect all Americans to high-speed Internet, we adopted a landmark overhaul of multi-
billion dollar universal service programs, modernizing them from telephone to broadband and
creating the Connect America Fund and the Mobility Fund, an unprecedented investment in
To unleash the enormous opportunities of mobile, we pioneered incentive auctions and other
cutting-edge spectrum policies.
To fuel America’s innovation economy, we put in place the first rules to preserve Internet
freedom and openness.
To drive competition and empower consumers, we opposed and modified transactions where
necessary, deployed technology to drive transparency, and took unprecedented enforcement
We helped harness the power of digital technologies to give students a better chance, people
better health care, and make Americans safer in their homes and communities, while also taking
steps to guard against digital threats and strengthening cyber security.
Thanks to great American entrepreneurs and companies – and thanks to your outstanding work –
America’s broadband economy is thriving, with record-setting private investment; unparalleled
innovation in networks, devices, and apps; and renewed U.S. leadership around the world.
On mobile, the U.S. has gone from laggard to leader.
We’re leading the world in deploying the next generation of mobile broadband at scale, with as
many 4G LTE subscribers as the rest of the world combined.
With smartphones, tablets, and the amazing applications on those platforms, U.S.-led mobile
innovation is the envy of the world.
The apps economy is a “made in the U.S.A.” phenomenon that’s already created hundreds of
thousands of jobs and is still in its early innings.
On wired broadband, we’ve laid more fiber in the U.S. in each of the last two years than in any
year since 2000, and average broadband speeds nearly doubled since 2009. Networks capable of
100 megabit speeds now pass 80% of households, up from just 20% four years ago.
Overall private investment in broadband infrastructure is up significantly in the U.S. Since 2009,
annual mobile capital investment is up 40%, while annual investment has been roughly flat in
Europe and Asia. For Internet venture investing, the last two years were the biggest years in over
Altogether, the ICT sector generates more private investment than any other sector of the U.S.
economy – more than $250 billion since 2009.
You have each contributed to this story, to furthering our overarching goal of universal
broadband, and promoting innovation, investment, competition, and consumers.
And I couldn’t be more proud of your incredible efforts.
Over the past four years, every bureau and office in this agency – from DC headquarters to
Gettysburg to Columbia to Powder Springs, Georgia to our field offices throughout the country –
has made essential contributions to turning this strategy into reality.
The Consumer Bureau helped ensure consumers were protected by cracking down on abuses like
bill shock, cramming, and mystery fees.
The Disability Rights Office helped ensure that 54 million Americans with disabilities can be full
participants in the digital age by implementing the landmark 21st Century Communications and
Video Accessibility Act.
When companies ran afoul of our rules, the Enforcement Bureau issued record-breaking fines,
and our field staff protected the safety of life and property.
To advance U.S. communications interests globally, the International Bureau tirelessly promoted
American values like Internet freedom, competition, and market access throughout the world.
To promote greater diversity in the media, the Media Bureau implemented the largest expansion
of community radio in U.S. history with our new LPFM radio rules.
The Office of Communications Business Opportunities connected entrepreneurs with capital and
To unleash new mobile opportunities and wireless wonders, the Office of Engineering and
Technology opened up TV white spaces for unlicensed use – a major new platform for wireless
innovation, and authorized miraculous wireless medical devices.
To make sure every decision is sound and lasting, the General Counsel’s Office worked to ensure
each of our policy achievements holds up in court, prevailing in 26 of the 28 cases challenging
policies adopted during the past four years.
The Office of Legislative Affairs helped us develop and maintain a collaborative and healthy
working relationship with Congress.
To connect more effectively with the people whose lives are affected by our decisions, the Office
of Media Relations smartly used technology to open up the agency.
The Office of the Managing Director and the Secretary’s Office streamlined operations,
modernized our licensing systems, and improved the agency’s performance in countless ways.
The new Office of Native Affairs and Policy for the first time gave the FCC institutional focus
on vital Tribal issues.
The Office of Strategic Planning was a driving force behind so many of our breakthrough ideas,
from innovative new spectrum policies to our open Internet rules, which have established
Internet openness as a business and social norm in the U.S. and are having a strongly positive
effect on innovation and investment.
The Office of Workplace Diversity helped ensure that the Commission has first-rate and diverse
staff with a broad range of skills and experience.
The Public-Private Initiative team kickstarted key projects like the Connect2Compete broadband
adoption effort, connecting low-income families with kids to the Internet.
The Public Safety Bureau is modernizing 9-1-1 for the Internet age, addressing cell-phone theft,
and strengthening cybersecurity.
The Wireline Bureau spearheaded USF reform, overhauling all four USF programs and leading
the efforts to create the largest broadband infrastructure program in U.S. history.
The Wireless Bureau helped make sure we sounded the alarm about the spectrum crunch in 2009
and has been working ever since on pioneering policies like incentive auctions and sharing to
Of course, this is only a partial list of your achievements over the past four years.
And virtually every one of the achievements I’ve mentioned involved staff from different offices
and bureaus working together.
Four years ago, there were questions about whether the FCC was up to the challenges before it.
Fortunately, we were blessed with world-class engineers, economists, lawyers and others.
We promoted from within, and recruited more stars from without.
We created a culture of collaboration across disciplines and Bureaus, a focus on problem-
solving, and an ethic of vibrant and open discussion, anchored in facts and driven by data.
And we’ve taken many concrete steps to reform and modernize the agency, eliminating over 200
unnecessary regulations and speeding our decision-making to match the pace of the sector.
Recognizing your work, your talent, and your focus on getting smart things done, Wired
magazine named a revitalized FCC one of the “Top 7 disruptions” in the tech sector, and the
Office of Personnel Management named the FCC the “Most Improved Agency”.
But as far as we’ve come – as I know we all feel – this agency can’t rest on its laurels.
We can’t let up on the gas pedal.
There are challenges ahead in this flat and fast-moving global economy, and a revitalized FCC is
equipped to continue taking them on.
We need to free up even more spectrum for mobile broadband.
We need to continue driving increased broadband speed and capacity to every town, every
school, every business, every consumer.
We need to maintain the fight for Internet freedom at home and abroad.
We need to ensure vibrant and healthy competition.
And we need to continue to increase broadband accessibility and adoption, and promote diversity
and the health of our democracy.
The last four years have demonstrated that the country needs an effective FCC.
And the need is only increasing – the need to tackle these challenges at a time when
communications technology is increasingly woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, and is
increasingly indispensable to growing our economy and making progress on national priorities
like education, health care, and public safety.
Our global competitors know this.
I saw it firsthand as I met with government officials and private sector leaders in Asia, Africa,
Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe over the past four years.
They understand that in our 21st century global economy, talent and capital can flow anywhere,
and they’re working to point the spigot toward themselves.
As this agency moves forward, the success of its work will ultimately be measured not only by
gigabits, megahertz, or points of GDP, as important as those are; it will be measured by its
impact on people’s lives.
That’s why we’ve all come to the FCC.
We’re here, because – if we do our jobs right – we can make a meaningful, positive difference in
the lives of the American people.
People like the innovators and entrepreneurs I’ve been lucky to meet – from immigrants in
Silicon Valley to coders in Silicon Alley, and vice versa – the teens in garages, college students
in dorm rooms, PhDs in labs across the country – who are working to take their big idea and
build the next great American tech, media or telecom company.
People like the high school student in Florida who wrote us a letter saying she does her
homework in the parking lot of her local library at night, because the only way she can get online
is the library's free Wi-Fi.
People like the newborn I met in northern California with blindness-causing eye disease whose
sight was saved by early-detection telemedicine tools, one of thousands of babies whose sight
could be saved by broadband-based services.
People like the servicemembers I met in Qatar who were using broadband for distance learning
and for faster, better medical treatment.
People like the 47-year-old man I met in the Bronx who got laid off during the recession, but
used online skills training to get a new job and said that, to him, “broadband” means “broad
These people are why our work matters so much, and you can take pride in the fact that we’ve
taken major actions that will open new doors of opportunity to millions of Americans like them.
In thanking the FCC family today, without embarrassing anyone, I’d like to mention a few
people in particular.
First, I want to acknowledge and deeply thank my fellow Commissioners – Rob McDowell,
Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, and Ajit Pai, as well as their predecessors Michael Copps
and Meredith Baker.
Thanks to them, we achieved reforms people thought impossible, and as a Commission we acted
on a bipartisan basis about 95% of the time.
Yes, on some issues we had differences.
We had disagreements, but never dysfunction. We never stopped moving forward with the vital
work of the agency, and our interactions improved the quality of our actions.
I want to thank their strong staffs. It’s been a pleasure working with such a terrific and hard-
To everyone who has worked in the Chairman’s office over the past 4 years, thank you, thank
you, thank you.
I’ve been blessed to have remarkably talented people in my office, who have risen to every
There are too many to name, but I want to acknowledge my two chiefs of staff – Eddie Lazarus
and Zac Katz – brilliant, gifted, and very special people.
And I want to recognize the one member of the OCH team who has stuck with me since day one,
and day one was almost 15 years ago.
Maria Gaglio, I’d be nowhere without you.
Special thanks to everyone who worked on the National Broadband Plan, which celebrated its
third anniversary this month.
This unprecedented strategic plan charted the course for many of the Commission actions I’ve
mentioned today, and remains a guiding light for our work.
Thank you to Congressional leaders who played a key role in advancing vital policies like
incentive auctions and a nationwide broadband public safety network – notably Senators
Rockefeller, Pryor and Wicker, now-Secretary of State Kerry, and former Senator Hutchinson,
and Representatives Waxman, Eshoo, Upton, Walden, and former Congressman Boucher.
Thank you to the many stakeholders in the private sector, the communications bar, and consumer
and public interest advocates who have been active participants in our proceedings.
The vibrant exchange of ideas you have enabled has been healthy and productive.
I’m deeply grateful to President Obama for his vision, friendship, and the opportunity to serve
When Barack Obama and I first met almost 25 years ago – before the age of cellphones and the
Internet – neither of us could have imagined today’s world, where Americans have devices in
their pockets with more computing power than the rocket that put a man on the moon.
But the extraordinary man who has become our President always had a strong faith in the power
of technology and communications to improve the lives of all Americans, and it’s an honor
beyond words to have had this assignment to help fulfill his vision.
While I plan to step down as Chairman in the coming weeks, today isn’t good bye.
Until I leave I intend to continue fully in my role, focusing on the work of the Commission and
helping ensure a healthy transition for the agency.
I received valuable counsel from previous Chairs, including Reed Hundt, Bill Kennard, Michael
Powell and Kevin Martin, as well as Mike Copps who was Acting Chair when I arrived.
I thank each of them. I look forward to continuing this tradition.
And I look forward to ongoing engagement in this powerfully exciting sector that’s transforming
the U.S. economy and society, and the world’s.
Finally, I want to thank my family, Rachel, Jake, Lilah, and Aaron.
My family is an inspiration, and that includes my parents, who taught me the power of the
They came to the United States as immigrants and found a land of opportunity.
During my confirmation hearing more than four years ago, I told the story of my father’s work
while a student at MIT on a device to help blind people read, how that taught me an enduring
lesson about the power of communications technology to improve people’s lives.
Just two weeks ago, I was back at MIT, which brought things full circle for me. I met with
different teams of engineering students – young and brilliant dreamers, with roots all over the
Every project they were working on tied directly to the work of the FCC.
One team was working on new ways to improve spectrum efficiency; one had developed a new
technology to facilitate spectrum sharing; another was developing a machine-to-machine Internet
technology to save lives.
It brought home for me the enduring strength of what I learned growing up.
That the American Dream is what drives our country forward and sets us apart from other
That innovation drives progress and expands opportunity.
I’ll always be proud of what we’ve done together to harness technology to advance the American
Dream for the 21st century.
I know first-hand how hard you’ve fought to fulfill this agency’s vital mission, and I know you’ll
keep doing so.
I look forward to continuing to work together until my last day at the agency, and to count you
all as family and as an inspiration for long after that.
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