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Scott Jordan, a professor at University of California at Irvine with a strong history working on network neutrality issues, was named the new chief technology officer (CTO) of the FCC.

For those who try to read tea leaves, Jordan’s appointment might be a signal that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is serious about exploring the possibility of reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, even as the Republican contingent among his fellow Commissioners have been vehemently dismissing the idea.

Jordan succeeds Henning Schulzrinne, who will return to Columbia University and continue to serve the Commission in a part-time capacity as a technology advisor.

Jordan is a professor of computer science at UC Irvine. His research interests include communications policy, pricing and differentiated services in the Internet, and resource allocation in wireless multimedia networks, the FCC said.

Jordan has also developed specific expertise in network neutrality issues, developing what one bio calls “moderate” network neutrality policies. That includes proposals for policy founded on network architectures that encourage development of network management for multimedia applications while prohibiting anti-competitive behavior or, as one of his papers puts it, the extraction of oligopoly rents. In other words, he’s been attempting to help formulate policy that would have strong consumer protections but which would not interfere with network operations or management.

He has not advocated for reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, but he has considered the question and has developed recommendations for how the policy might most fairly be applied by making careful distinction between the network layer and below (layers 1-3 on the OSI stack) and the transport layer and above (OSI layers 4-7). (Comments here.)

He has served as an IEEE Congressional Fellow, working in the United States Senate on Internet and telecommunications policy issues, and on the FCC Open Internet Technical Advisory Committee.

In the technology arena, Jordan works to further integrate voice, data, and video on the Internet and on wireless networks, the FCC said.

“Scott’s engineering and technical expertise, particularly with respect to the Internet, will provide great assistance to the Commission as we consider decisions that will affect America’s communications platforms. We are delighted that he is joining us,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

“Scott has big shoes to fill, as the contributions of outgoing Chief Technology Officer Henning Schulzrinne, are innumerable. Henning played an invaluable role within the Commission in making sure our tech transition efforts have a sound grounding in technology. Most recently his research and advice were key in the Commission’s decision to hold carriers accountable by adopting rules requiring text-to-911 services,” Wheeler said.

Jordan will be based in the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.

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