Washington, D.C. can actually be a small town and telecom/broadband circles can make the city feel even smaller. So, while I was very sorry to see Amy Bender, legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, leave her post at the FCC this week, I know that our paths will cross again in her next “gig”.
After Amy’s very distinguished 14-year career with the agency and after all of her hard work on topics as critical as the Universal Service Fund, it would have been impossible for me to not show up at her farewell bash at the FCC to thank her, on behalf of NTCA’s members, for years of listening, questioning, debating and looking for solutions on issues that significantly impact RLECs. She has really epitomized being a public servant and her wisdom at the FCC will be missed. Did we always agree? Absolutely not, but the arguments and deliberations led to a better result by dint of that discord as well.
It was a real tribute to Amy to see the number of FCC Commissioners in the room to wish her well, along with the bureau teams, outside industry groups and her family in the spirit of an appropriate send-off. As the accolades poured in, it seemed fitting that her celebration was on the same day as the results from the CAFII auction – which Amy was a force behind – being released. Likely a fitting legacy (particularly if some of the winners of the auction can really live up to their speed and buildout obligations…we’ll see) and a nod to some who think outside the box.
My only beef with the entire event was the joke that everyone heading up to the podium had to make about the “nerdy wireline lawyers”. What?? I know plenty of fabulous “wireline” attorneys – heck – NTCA has several on staff! Frankly, folks quickly forget that wireline is the foundation of much of the other “cool” stuff that happens over the network. Be that as it may, Amy Bender will now be heading over to NCTA, the large cable guys, and I am hoping that we’ll be on more of the same side of policy issues than the opposition.