The Trump Administration intends to nominate an FCC outsider to fill the seat of Republican Michael O’Rielly at the agency. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Senior Advisor Nathan Simington specializes in network and telecommunications policy. He works on 5G security in general, including supply chains, and the American Broadband Initiative, among other telecom issues, according to the White House.
O’Rielly has served at the FCC for six years and was expected to remain on the Commission a third term. In August, Trump abruptly withdrew O’Rielly’s nomination with no explanation after the commissioner gave a speech opposing the FCC’s involvement in regulating social media, which the President favors. The Senate Commerce Committee had cleared O’Rielly for a third term and he awaited Senate confirmation when his nomination was pulled, Inside Towers reported.
Prior to his appointment at NTIA, Simington was Senior Counsel to wireless company Brightstar Corporation. In this role, he negotiated deals with companies “across the spectrum of the telecommunications and internet industry, including most of the world’s leading wireless carriers,” stated the White House. As the head lawyer on the advanced mobility products team, he spearheaded international transactions in the devices, towers and services fields and forged what the Administration called “strong” relationships with telecom equipment manufacturers.
O’Rielly can continue as an FCC Commissioner either until Congress adjourns or Simington has had a nomination hearing in the Senate and receives Senate confirmation, whichever comes first.
In the wake of the unexpected withdrawal, the search for O’Rielly’s successor has been chaotic, and it was unclear whether a nomination would be submitted before the November election, reported The Verge. Also unclear is if the Senate will have time to act on Simington’s nomination before then.
O’Rielly tweeted his support for his potential successor, saying: “I extend my sincere congrats to Mr. Simington for selection to join @FCC, and offer best wishes for a smooth confirmation process and successful term at the Commission.” NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith, also congratulated Simington, saying: “We wish him the best during the confirmation process and look forward to working with him on the critical issues affecting local radio and TV broadcasters should he be confirmed to the Commission.”