Telcom Critics Could Have Issues With Obama Pick

A telecommunications executive today resigned from his director's seat at Newport Beach-based Mindspeed Technologies to work at the White House as Barack Obama's director of presidential personnel.

Obama can thus expect heavy scrutiny from net-neutrality advocates fearful of Donald H. Gips' closeness to power.

Neutrality proponents, who include Google, warn that telecom companies are heavily lobbying U.S. politicians to impose a tiered service model at the expense of other companies and the general public, which would be relegated to a lower tier where online speed, performance and content could be severely weakened. There are even fears of content being blocked altogether. Neutrality is a principle of a broadband network that is not degraded by other communications streams and free of restrictions on content, sites, platforms, attached equipment and modes of communication allowed. Proponents want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to arbitrate over this.

Opponents counter that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance and that "net neutrality" is a solution in search of a problem. They also claim that Google is trying to unfairly out-speed the competition by denying others the right to innovate.

The debate lands squarely at the FCC, where Gips served as the International Bureau Chief and Director of Strategic Policy from January 1994 to April 1997. Besides sitting on the board of Mindspeed, which makes semiconductor equipment and materials, the 48-year-old was a vice president with Level 3 Communications, a diversified technology communcations company based in Colorado. His Level 3 CEO has come out against net neutrality. Mindspeed also has a heavy stake in the issue as it relates to its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

Gips is no stranger to the White House, having left the FCC to serve as Vice President Al Gore's chief domestic policy adviser from April 1997 to April 1998. Gips was also on the advisory board of the 2008 Obama-Biden transition team.

He'll be leaving an estimated $121,146 in director's compensation from Mindspeed.


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