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Levin Leaves FCC for Aspen Institute

WASHINGTON: The man who led the development of the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband plan, and has generated his share of controversy, is leaving the agency.

Blair Levin, executive director of the broadband initiative at the commission, will become a communications and society fellow at the Aspen Institute as he leaves the FCC on May 7.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski praised Levin’s work, saying it is “beyond measure.”

Before his broadband plan effort at the agency, Levin co-headed the Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Policy Working Group of President Obama’s Technology Transition Team along with Genachowski.
Levin, an attorney, served as chief of staff to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt from 1993 to 1997, where he oversaw the implementation of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act. He was also a managing director at the investment firm Stifel Nicolaus.

Levin follows former FCC Chairmen Kevin Martin and Michael Powell, who both went to the Aspen Institute following their tenures at the commission. Powell is now head of Broadband for America, an industry group the membership of which includes entities as diverse as Verizon and the Livestock Marketing Association.

Powell recently spoke with The Washington Post’sCecilia Kang about reclassifying broadband as a Title 2 service so the government might further regulate it. Powell, Chairman from 2001 to 2005, defended his decree that it should be a Title 1 service. The issue arose after a court recently ruled that the FCC could not dictate how Comcast managed its broadband network.

“I hate the idea of Title II for broadband. I think we would really regret it because for a regulator versed in what it means, it means thousands and thousands of pages that would fall into this space and we would spend our lifetime trying to clean it up. And the real worry is that we will enter another prolonged period of litigation,” Powell said.

-- From Radio World with additional information from TVB

Read Levin’s January speech “Wired for Social Justice” to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council's Broadband and Social Justice Summit.