McDowell, whose appointment requires Senate confirmation, is senior vice president and assistant general counsel for the Competitive Telecommunications Association, and he previously served as executive vice president and general counsel for the Americas Carriers Telecommunications Association.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has operated with just one fellow Republican on the five-member commission for several months, said he looked forward to a full complement of commissioners. McDowells confirmation would create a 3-2 Republican majority.
"If confirmed, Rob McDowell will be a great asset to the Commission," Martin said. "He has a wealth of knowledge in the communications arena, and we will rely on his insight when evaluating the issues before us."
Industry observers predict that the addition of McDowell to the FCC could be advantageous to telecom carriers rivaling the long-entrenched Bells.
"Given Mr. McDowells background, it is also likely to be good news for [competitive local exchange carriers] and ISPs and a source of some concern for incumbent ILECs [Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers], though we note that most of the key Bell-CLEC [Competitive Local Exchange Carrier] issues have already been decided and will not be re-examined," said Blair Levin, analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company in Washington.
The Bells reacted with praise for McDowell.
"Mr. McDowells 15 years of involvement in the communications industry certainly means he knows telecom issues inside and out and has the capacity to do a great job on the FCC," said Herschel Abbott, vice president of governmental affairs at BellSouth in Nashville, Tenn.
"We are confident that he will support policies that will bring consumers the benefit of widespread broadband deployment and new competition in providing television service free of government interference."