Despite many recent changes in the communications industry, countless Americans still rely on the traditional circuit-switched telecommunications network. As the economic model that supports this legacy network continues to erode, stakeholders from across the communications landscape are weighing in on how to handle the switch from traditional telephone transmission to modern, cost efficient Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications.
The IP transition has recently become a point of focus and contention at the FCC and on Capitol Hill. Proponents of the transition say that the traditional circuit-switched networks no longer meet the needs of the American consumer. Many telecommunications companies have formally petitioned the federal government for relief from the regulatory obligations that apply to carriers as they transition to purely IP networks. On the other side, public interest and consumer advocates worry that the IP transition would limit the FCC's ability to regulate providers.
Join National Journal for a Policy Summit featuring leading industry insiders, consumer and regulatory experts, and other key opinion leaders as we explore the state of American communications in the 21st century.
Harold Feld is Senior Vice President of Public Knowledge. In addition to blogging on the Public Knowledge Blog, Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory at Wetmachine.com.
Barry Ohlson is vice president of regulatory affairs for Cox Enterprises, Inc., a leading communications, media and automotive services company.
He is responsible for managing policy matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies. He works closely with Cox's leadership to define and implement the company's regulatory agenda and represents the company before federal decision makers and in industry associations.
Prior to Cox, Ohlson was a partner with Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, where he counseled a range of broadband, media, and manufacturing clients. He also worked at the FCC for more than six years, serving most of that time as Senior Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. In this role, he worked with the Commissioner to develop policy for the telecommunications and media industries. Before joining the Commissioner, Ohlson worked in the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau as Chief of the former Policy Division.
Previously, Ohlson worked as senior director for Winstar Communications and practiced in several Washington, D.C. law firms.
He is on the Board of Trustees of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) Foundation and currently serves as Treasurer. Ohlson earned a juris doctor from the George Washington University Law School and an A.B. from The College of William & Mary.
Chip Pickering is the CEO of Comptel.
Pickering was a six-term Congressman, elected in 1996, representing Mississippi’s Third District. During this time, he served on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where he was vice chairman from 2002 to 2006 and a member of the Telecommunications Subcommittee. He also was co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Wireless Caucus and an assistant minority whip of the House. Previously, Pickering worked for Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and served as a staff member on the Senate Commerce Committee, where he helped shape the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Because of his role in drafting the 1996 Act, he became well known as a Congressional leader on telecommunications issues.
Currently, Pickering is a partner with Capitol Resources LLC, a public affairs and government relations firm based in Jackson, Miss., with offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee. In this role, he has represented an array of telecom clients, including wireless, cable and competitive broadband providers, as well as non-profits and companies specializing in education, energy, technology and defense. He also played a vital role as one of the principal negotiators in developing a wireless industry agreement for interoperability in the 700 block.
As AT&T’s Senior Vice President-Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer, Bob Quinn leads AT&T’s Federal Regulatory group which is responsible for all regulatory matters affecting AT&T and its affiliates before the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Quinn is also responsible for customer privacy policies at the international, federal and state level across all lines of businesses.
Kathleen Quinn Abernathy
Kathleen Quinn Abernathy is Executive Vice President, External Affairs, responsible for the company's governmental and regulatory affairs. From March 2010 to June 2012, she was Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Governmental Affairs. Prior to joining Frontier, she was a Partner at Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, advising clients on a wide range of legal, policy and regulatory issues related to telecommunications and the media. Before this, she was a Partner at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP.
Ms. Abernathy served as a Commissioner with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2001-2005. While a Commissioner, she chaired the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and participated as a U.S. representative in numerous international bilateral and multilateral negotiations, including the 2002 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference and the 2003 ITU World Radiocommunications Conference. She was appointed by the ITU to chair the 2004 ITU Global Symposium for Regulators.
Prior to joining the FCC, Ms. Abernathy was Vice President for Public Policy at BroadBand Office Communications; Vice President for Regulatory Affairs at US West; and Vice President for Federal Regulatory Affairs at AirTouch Communications. Earlier in her career, she was Legal Advisor to two FCC commissioners and a Special Assistant to the agency's General Counsel.
Ms. Abernathy has received numerous honors and awards in recognition of her contributions to the profession. In 2011 she was named one of the "Top Ten Women in Telecom" by Fierce Telecom and honored by Legal Momentum with an "Aiming High Award." She was featured in Chambers USA's "Leaders in their Field" in the Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite: Regulatory category (2009); included in the Washington, DC edition of Super Lawyers (2009, 2010); and named one of Washington's Top Lawyers by Washingtonian magazine (2007, 2009).
Ms. Abernathy served on Frontier Communications' board of directors from April 2006 through February 2010. She is currently on the boards of the John Gardner Fellowship Association, which is affiliated with U.C. Berkley, and Stanford University and Children Now. She also serves on the board of ISO New England Inc., the operator of New England's bulk power and wholesale electricity markets.
Ms. Abernathy received her B.A. magna cum laude from Marquette University and her J.D. from Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, where she was a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the Federal Communications Bar Association, of which she is a Past-President, and has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and The Columbus School of Law.
Tom Wheeler became the 31st Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on November 4, 2013. Chairman Wheeler was appointed by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate.