Senate Panel Approves Adelstein

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously endorsed Jonathan Adelstein, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), to fill the vacant fifth commissioner spot at the FCC.

First, the panel chatted amiably with him about the telecommunications-industry financial crisis and broadband deployment.

"Broadband is a top priority," Adelstein said. "You can't deploy broadband fast enough."

Although he agreed with senators that some sectors of the nation have a surplus of infrastructure, he said that rural areas such as his home state do not share that blessing.

"Jonathan will be a strong voice for rural America and will work with other commissioners to determine telecommunications policy in a way that encourages, not hinders, telecommunications advances in rural areas," Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) told the panel.

Born in Rapid City, S.D., Adelstein attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. (the alma mater of both Presidents Bush) before earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford. He also attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He has worked in the Senate since 1987.

One topic that did not arise in the hour-long hearing was the transition to digital television.

The law requires that no more than three commissioners come from one party. The FCC now includes three Republicans and one Democrat. The panel's action sends the matter to the full Senate for approval.