FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin has appointed Dana Shaffer as chief of the commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau. Shaffer replaces Tom Navin, who is ostensibly leaving to pursue other opportunities. “Wireline” is the FCC’s way of saying “not wireless.” FCC activity relating to fixed-location broadband that relies on telephone lines or cable networks is handled at the Wireline Competition Bureau. The Bureau’s mission, taken from the FCC website:

The Wireline Competition Bureau develops and recommends policy goals, objectives, programs and plans for the Commission on matters concerning wireline telecommunications. The Wireline Competition Bureau�s overall objectives include:

  • ensuring choice, opportunity, and fairness in the development of wireline telecommunications services and markets;
  • developing deregulatory initiatives;
  • promoting economically efficient investment in wireline telecommunications infrastructure;
  • promoting the development and widespread availability of wireline telecommunications services; and
  • fostering economic growth.

The Bureau is organized into four divisions and an Administrative and Management Office.

Shaffer previously served as the FCC Deputy Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, interim legal advisor to Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate and to Commissioner Robert McDowell, and most recently as the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Perhaps most interesting in the context of broadband competition is the fact that Shaffer has served as President of the Southeastern Competitive Carriers Association and President of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association. She was also the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for XO Communications, a CLEC (Competing Local Exchange Carrier) that faced an uphill battle competing with ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, aka “the Baby Bells”). In the context of the ongoing debate about broadband competition in the U.S., Shaffer’s experience at XO may be of even more value than her prior experience at the FCC, particularly in regard to the first of the Bureau’s objectives.

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