As chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from November, 1997 to January, 2001, William E. Kennard presided over the FCC at an historic time. During his tenure, he shaped policies that created an explosion of new wireless phones, brought the Internet to a majority of American households, and resulted in billions of dollars of investment in new broadband technologies. At the same time, he implemented bold new policies to bridge the digital divide in the United States and around the world.
During his tenure, William E. Kennard fought to bring the benefits of a more competitive marketplace to all consumers. His procompetitive implementation of the historic Telecommunications Act of 1996 contributed to the development of a competitive local telephone industry in the United States which has attracted over $50 billion in revenues since 1996. He also shaped the outcome of the most significant communications mergers in history, such as AOL-Time Warner, Worldcom-MCI, CBS-Viacom, Verizon-GTE and SBC-Ameritech.
As FCC chairman, Kennard promoted the benefits of competition and deregulation worldwide. He pioneered an innovative Development Initiative to assist countries in the developing world to participate more fully in the global information infrastructure. Through this initiative, Kennard signed the first partnership agreements on behalf of the FCC with ten countries on four continents to share U.S. regulatory experience with emerging regulatory authorities.
Kennard is well-known for his advocacy for people at risk of being stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. He aggressively implemented the FCC’s e-rate program by investing over $6 billion to bring the Internet to 95% of K-12 schools and 58,000 libraries in the United States. During his tenure, the FCC dramatically expanded access to communications technologies for people with disabilities. The FCC adopted policies to increase telephone service to rural areas, especially for Native Americans living on tribal lands. Kennard also reached out to create more ownership and employment opportunities for women and minorities.
U.S. News and World Report dubbed Kennard a “consumer champion for the digital age.” He has received many honors and awards for his accomplishments as chairman, including awards from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Easter Seals Foundation, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and honorary degrees from Howard University, Long Island University and Gallaudet University.
William Kennard is currently a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, Communications and Society Program, in Washington, D.C. The Aspen Institute is a non-profit organization which convenes seminars and policy programs to address the foremost challenges of the new century. Kennard is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. He resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Deborah Diane Kennedy, and their son, Robert.