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FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announcing plan to step down on Friday

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FCC Julius Genachowski Vox Media
FCC Julius Genachowski Vox Media

The Wall Street Journal is citing an "FCC official" in a report that Julius Genachowski — the man atop the Federal Communications Commission who has overseen AT&T's attempted buyout of T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile's merger with MetroPCS, and stratospheric growth in wireless service over the past several years — will announce plans to step down tomorrow.

His term would be up in July anyway

Genachowski replaced the pragmatic Kevin Martin in 2009 at a trying time in the mobile industry: the massive 700MHz auction that would eventually spur LTE deployments on Verizon and AT&T had already taken place, but explosive success of the iPhone had caught the entire industry off-guard, setting off a frenzied search for additional spectrum that continues to this day.

Genachowski's term as chairman would be up in July either way, but this news suggests that he may be ready to give up the post even sooner, a possibility put forth last week in an article published by the Washington Post. It's unknown where he might land — at just 50 years old, he's unlikely to retire — but his stock will likely be very high among content creators, distributors, and network operators that he's spent the last four years regulating. Late last year, Genachowski spent time in Vox Media's Washington, DC offices talking about the future of media; it's easy to believe that he won't stray far from that theme in whatever new role he takes on.

A spokesman for Genachowski declined comment.