(Reuters) - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will announce on Friday that he will step down, according to an FCC official, leaving the agency after a four-year term that focused heavily on improving Internet access across the country.
Genachowski told FCC staff on Thursday of his plans to make the Friday announcement, the official and an industry source said. He has been widely expected to exit in coming weeks. His term expires in June.
A spokesman in Genachowski's office declined to comment.
The news comes in the same week that Robert McDowell, senior Republican commissioner on the five-member panel, said he will leave in a few weeks. The FCC oversees TV, radio, cable, satellite and Internet industries.
Rules governing FCC appointments mean President Barack Obama will nominate a new Republican commissioner and a Democratic chair in coming days and the two will likely go through their Senate confirmations at the same hearing.
Several people are considered likely candidates to head the FCC. One is Tom Wheeler, venture capitalist and an Obama ally and fundraiser who is a known figure in Washington telecom circles thanks to his lobbying history at the National Cable Television Association and the wireless industry group CTIA.
Other possible candidates are Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Karen Kornbluh, most recently ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Blair Levin, a former FCC staff member and now industry analyst.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Eric Walsh)