Ex-FCC commissioner to head CTIA in latest Washington shuffle

Meredith Attwell Baker, a onetime Obama appointee, will now run the mobile industry group

Completing the circle of Beltway life, the mobile industry group CTIA has named a former member of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission as its president and CEO.

Meredith Attwell Baker, who was appointed to the commission in 2009 by President Barack Obama and served for two years, will take over CTIA in June. She will succeed Steve Largent, a former congressman who is retiring after leading CTIA, the main lobbying organization for U.S. mobile operators, since 2003.

Wednesday's announcement came less than a year after a former CTIA chief and cable industry lobbyist, Tom Wheeler, was nominated as chairman of the FCC. That appointment was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, albeit after about five months of political wrangling that was unrelated to Wheeler's former affiliations.

The U.S. capital, surrounded by its famous ring road called the Beltway, is often criticized as an incestuous world of revolving doors between industries and the agencies that are charged with regulating them. Baker and Wheeler are not the first communications luminaries to move between government and industry groups. A former FCC chairman, Michael Powell, now heads the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Julius Genachowski, who preceded Wheeler at the FCC, previously had been an executive at media and broadcasting conglomerate IAC.

More than 80 percent of FCC commissioners since 1980 have gone on to work for companies or groups in the industries they used to regulate, according to Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy at Free Press, a public-interest advocacy group on media and technology.

As much as Wheeler has been linked to industry, it's too soon to say which direction he'll take on critical issues, Karr said. A key measure will come in the next few days as Wheeler is expected to propose a way for the FCC to ensure an open Internet, which he has advocated. Carriers fought the agency's previous position on the net neutrality issue and won in a federal appeals court in January.

But over the years, the revolving door between regulator and regulated has led to agencies more beholden to monied interests than to the public, according to Karr.

"Washington is a billion-dollar influence industry, and everybody who's there, working in the public or the private sector, knows how that game is played," Karr said.

Baker, 45, is not new to CTIA. She was a director of congressional affairs there from 1998 to 2000 and later served in the Commerce Department, including as acting administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which advises the president on communications. Most recently, Baker was senior vice president of government affairs for Comcast-NBCUniversal.

At CTIA, she's likely to maintain the group's focus on making more wireless spectrum available for commercial mobile services. Among the goals outlined in a press release on her appointment are to "work with commercial and government users to produce a viable five-year plan for the future of spectrum usage" and "begin to regularly assess how efficiently spectrum is being used."

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags regulationctiaU.S. Federal Communications Commissionmobilegovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?