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Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his resignation from the agency effective January 20, 2017.
In his three years at the FCC, Tom Wheeler pushed to transform every aspect of the FCC’s jurisdiction to serve the public and the public interest. To highlight just some of Wheeler’s accomplishments and initiatives in the face of industry pushback and hyper-partisan resistance:
- Created real and effective net neutrality rules and established a firm legal foundation for protecting consumers and competition for broadband by reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service.
- Extended the “Lifeline” subsidy program for the poor from traditional phone service to broadband.
- Blocked anti-competitive and anti-consumer mega-mergers, like the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, and imposed important conditions on other mergers.
- Created the strongest privacy rules ever for consumers using broadband access service.
- Challenged the cable industry over outrageous set-top box fees and business data service overpricing
- Developed innovative new ways to find the wireless capacity we need to meet our ever growing need, including developing the world’s first ever Incentive Auction.
- Reinvigorated the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau -- focusing on protecting consumer privacy and curbing unfair practices such as Wi-Fi blocking by hotels and convention centers.
- Created rules that ensure that the “tech transition” of the telephone system to an all-digital platform will be done in a responsible manner that protects consumers and competitors.
- Expanded protections for the incarcerated, enabling them to communicate with their families without egregious phone charges
- Updated the 911 system for public safety, helping emergency responders reach 911 callers in time to save lives
The following can be attributed to Public Knowledge President and CEO Gene Kimmelman:
“Chairman Wheeler has done more to promote competition and consumer protection than any Chairman in recent memory. Consumers owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for his steadfast commitment to making our digital future fair and accessible for all. Though Americans are losing a great consumer protection champion, we will all benefit from his legacy and the policies he’s leaving behind.”
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Public Knowledge:
“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. In the days ahead, the public must be prepared to fight vigorously to keep the consumer protections he created.”