How will change of the FCC guard impact big telecom issues?

Now that has been selected  by President-elect Barack Obama to chair the , he can expect to be a very busy man over the next four years.

Once Genachowski officially takes over the FCC later this month, he will have to deal with immediate challenges, such as the impending transition from analog to DTV, as well as more long-term goals, such as deciding whether to impose 'Net neutrality rules and bringing broadband to underserved regions. As if that weren't enough, Nemertes Research analyst and Network World columnist says that the decisions that Genachowski and the FCC make over the next four years could very decide "the fate of the Internet."

But before diving into the specific issues on the FCC's plate, it's useful to have some basic background information on its incoming chairman. Genachowski had previously worked at the FCC as the chief counsel to former FCC chairman Reed Hundt and has also been a senior executive at the IAC/InterActiveCorp e-commerce company, as well as a member of the boards of directors for Internet companies such as Expedia and During the 2008 presidential election, Genachowski served as chairman of the Obama campaign's Technology, Media and Telecommunications policy working group, and he is a leader on the Obama transition team's policy working group on technology, innovation and government reform. Obama and Genachowski have known each other since the early 1990s, when the two men worked at the Harvard Law Review while students at Harvard Law School.

Although Genachowski's background is more in the legal realm than in the technology domain, Johnson says that she is cautiously optimistic because Genachowski seems to have a good grasp of the big-picture issues facing the telecommunications industry.

"One of things I liked about Genachowski is that when he was working for the Obama campaign, he accurately articulated the biggest problem facing the United States from a technology standpoint, which is the underinvestment in technological research at the educational and university level," she says. "We're still living off the proceeds of the research and development investments we made in the '60s and '70s."

The issues at stake