Broadband Plan Author To Leave FCC

Veteran government technology advisor and leader Blair Levin has been an advocate for spreading Internet usage among technologically underserved Americans.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

April 16, 2010

2 Min Read

Blair Levin, the chief author of the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan, is resigning his post and will join the Aspen Institute as a Communications and Society Fellow.

Levin has been a longtime FCC official serving primarily during periods when the Democratic Party has controlled the agency. Before leading the writing of the NBP, he co-headed the Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Policy Working Group of President Obama's Technology Transition Team. The other leader of that team was current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski.

From 1993 to 1997, Levin was chief of staff for then-FCC chairman Reed Hundt during the implementation of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act. Before Levin re-joined the FCC last year, he was a managing director at investment firm Stifel Nicolaus.

In addition to his yeoman work on writing the NBP, Levin has been a prominent advocate for spreading Internet usage among disadvantaged and technologically underserved Americans.

"When we think about civic engagement, we must recognize that the internet is a library. It's a television. It's a telephone and a public square," said Levin at a meeting earlier this year. "The uncomfortable questions we have to come to terms with however is, why do fewer than 40 percent of households that make under $20,000 a year have broadband at home, while 80 percent subscribe to premium television?"

The Aspen Institute's non-partisan Communications and Society Program supports programs for global leaders and experts to share insights on electronic technology's impact on societies. Many former FCC officials have held positions at the think tank, which is based in Washington D.C., Aspen, Colorado, and on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Former FCC chairman Kevin Martin, who served during the George W. Bush Administration, for instance, has joined the Aspen Institute.

In a statement on his new post at the institute, Blair said: "There I can reflect on the impact of the National Broadband Plan and particularly its application to the international arena."

The National Broadband Plan is the subject of much debate around Washington in light of a recent court ruling against the FCC.

The FCC is considering revisions to the plan to put it into compliance with the ruling.

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