FCC chairman Kevin Martin (pictured) has resigned from his post as commissioner and chairman of the FCC effective Tuesday, Jan. 20. He made the announcement early this afternoon (Jan. 15); just days after hinting that he would stay on until his term as a commissioner expired in 2010.

Martin said he leaves the office with great pride in the FCC's accomplishments and with deep gratitude for having had an opportunity to serve the American public. The announcement of his resignation included a multi-page list of his accomplishments during his tenure as Chairman, which began in 2005 after Michael Powell left the Commission and from his first year as a commissioner in 2001.

Martin said his philosophy "has been to pursue deregulation while paying close attention to its impact on consumers and the particulars of a given market, to balance deregulation with consumer protection." He stated that he "approached his decisions with a fundamental belief that a robust, competitive marketplace, not regulation, is ultimately the best protector of the public interest and the best method of delivering the benefits of choice, innovation and affordability to American consumers."

Martin, 42, will join the Aspen Institute, a non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C., as a senior fellow in the Communications and Society Program. Martin is the fourth consecutive FCC chair to accept this fellowship after ending the chairmanship, following Powell, Bill Kennard and Reed Hundt. Both Kennard and Hundt are also Obama Transition Team advisors.

"Chairman Martin has been a longtime participant in Aspen Institute forums," said Charles Firestone, executive director of the Aspen program. "We look forward to working with him and to the advice he will give us." Firestone also noted the past participation of the anticipated next chairman, Julius Genachowski, in the Aspen Institute Forum on Communications and Society (FOCAS), an annual summer conference in Aspen, Colo., pointing out the non-partisan nature of the Program.

"I have long enjoyed and respected the Communications and Society Program," Martin said, "and will relish the opportunity to reflect on the nature of leadership that I exercised in this field for the past several years."

Martin's departure, while widely expected, also comes as a small surprise since he told reporters Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that he had no immediate plans to leave the FCC and that he could step aside as chairman and stay on until this commissioner term ends in 2010.

In his letter of resignation to President Bush, Martin said, "During this period, we have seen a telecommunications industry undergoing rapid and unprecedented change. As a result of the market-oriented and consumer focused policies we have pursued the American people are now reaping the rewards of convergence and the broadband revolution including new and more innovative technologies and services at ever-declining prices."

Either Michael Copps or Jonathan Adelstein, both Democrats, is expected to be picked by president-elect Obama to serve as the interim FCC chairman until Julius Genachowski is officially nominated and then confirmed by the Senate as the new FCC chairman.