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Jonathan Spalter Headshot

A new leader at the FCC

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Given the enormous role the FCC can play for ensuring not only the vitality and health of our nations' communications sector, but also the reasonable interests of the American consumers who support it, the announcement that Julius Genachowski will be nominated for FCC chair comes not a moment too soon. And President Obama's decision to give his old friend and law school class mate this important slot augurs well for the future of innovation, common sense, and the common good in telecommunications regulation.

That Julius comes to this position having had real-world experience in the business world -- both in technology and media -- is a decided advantage. At a time when literally thousands of companies supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs are seeking to deploy exciting new communications applications and services and will depend existentially on decisions that will be made by the FCC, it is nice to know that at the helm of that body is someone who has learned something about the immense challenges of meeting a payroll, getting a product to market, and creating productive jobs for American citizens.

It is confidence-building as well that Julius has also been able to deepen his understanding about technology and communications having worked as a venture capitalist, learning directly from early stage tech companies and the markets they serve. Through this optic, our presumptive FCC chair will be able to bring not only his broad fluency in matters of policy, but also an appreciation for the elegant technology, coding, algorithms, product development, and deep consumer research that goes into the development of next-generation communications services supported by venture capitalists.

Add to this another dimension -- a human one -- that will bring a fresh change from the previous leadership at the FCC. Julius is not merely a man of experience and intellectual integrity, but also a leader known for his humanity. As many who have worked with him over the years have seen, he is a leader who values openness, inclusiveness, and probity. He is a listener, who will bring an affirming style and an open door that will boost morale within the Commission, but also raise the promise of an honest and forthright partner for those innumerable companies, organizations and consumers who will depend heavily on the wisdom of his and his colleagues' decision-making.

I had the chance to collaborate with Julius during his first stint at the FCC under the Clinton Administration while I was at the White House, and later in the private sector when we both were executives at global media companies which had business dealings. The good qualities he displayed in these roles no doubt will mark well his tenure at the FCC, re-inventing that agency for a new future of promise and prosperity for the communications industry and the hundreds of millions of citizens it serves.

Good luck, Julius!

Jonathan Spalter, chairman of the Mobile Future coalition, served as chief information officer at the United States Information Agency during the Clinton administration.