FCC chairs usually tender their resignations when a new administration takes over, but Tom Wheeler kept everyone guessing over the last several weeks. On Thursday morning, the FCC confirmed his departure effective Jan. 20. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (who usually, but not always, votes along Democratic lines with Wheeler) was not approved for a new term by the Senate, and will also leave the FCC in January. So, that leaves a 2-1 Republican-leaning FCC.
In a speech earlier this month, Commissioner Ajit Pai said the Commission needs to “fire up the weed whacker,” and some pundits have taken that to mean net neutrality regulation and media ownership rules could potentially see big changes in the next few years.
“Serving as FCC Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity,” Wheeler says in a statement. “I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people.”
Responses are trickling in from consumer advocacy groups, mostly praising Wheeler’s tenure at the FCC.
“When President Obama appointed Tom Wheeler chairman, many people voiced open suspicion of a man who had led two major industry trade associations. But rather than be the lapdog of industry some feared (or hoped for), Tom Wheeler proved himself to be the most ferocious watchdog for consumers and competition in nearly two decades,” Harold Feld, SVP at Public Knowledge, comments. “In the days ahead, the public must be prepared to fight vigorously to keep the consumer protections he created.”
CED will continue to follow reactions, so check back for more responses from the Beltway as well as the telecommunication industry at large. For more on Wheeler’s departure, read this article here at Wireless Week.
Filed Under: Industry regulations