FCC Chairman and Net Neutrality Advocate, Tom Wheeler to Resign on Jan. 20

Movers and Shakers

FCC Chairman and Net Neutrality Advocate, Tom Wheeler to Resign on Jan. 20

Dec 19, 2016

THE WHEELS WILL STOP: Tom Wheeler will step down as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on next year’s inauguration day—Jan. 20, 2017. “It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans,” he wrote in an statement announcing the decision (PDF).

Under his watch, which began in Nov. 2013, the FCC worked closely with the Obama administration on the ConnectED initiative to help more schools and libraries, particularly in rural communities, enjoy access to high-speed broadband. One landmark accomplishment was securing a $1.5 billion boost for E-Rate, the federal program that subsidizes such broadband initiatives.

“Technology and high-speed broadband can open new worlds of opportunity for our nation’s teachers and students, allowing them to access expertise and resources and engage and collaborate in new, exciting ways,” Wheeler and former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan, wrote in an EdSurge op-ed last year.

A former lobbyist for the telecommunications industry, Wheeler was also instrumental in protecting net neutrality, a measure that aims to prevent internet service providers from offering different speeds at different prices.

Wheeler’s decision will leave two vacancies for the president-elect to fill, and raises questions over whether a Republican-majority FCC will undo some of his efforts. Wired is already lamenting Wheeler’s departure: “So Long, Net Neutrality.”


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