& cplSiteName &

Wheeler's Parting Advice on Title II

Mari Silbey
12/15/2016
50%
50%

With only two items on the official agenda, the final FCC open meeting of the year was dedicated almost entirely to thank yous and farewells. It marked the last time that the current set of five Commissioners will address the public together.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel will step down from office at the end of this year, and Chairman Tom Wheeler announced this morning that he'll leave the agency on January 20. (See Wheeler to Leave FCC Next Month.)

The end of an era - From left to right, Commissioners Ajit Pai, Mignon Clyburn, Tom Wheeler, Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O'Rielly
The end of an era – From left to right, Commissioners Ajit Pai, Mignon Clyburn, Tom Wheeler, Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O'Rielly

However, despite the emphasis on goodbyes, today's meeting, and a press conference with Chairman Wheeler afterwards, also provided a forum for some parting advice.

In particular, Wheeler offered his thoughts on the future of the Open Internet Order -- which dictates net neutrality rules, and which defined Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act -- and Wheeler answered the question of why he thought it wasn't possible at the time of the order's passing to come to a bipartisan consensus over how the Internet should be governed.

Many industry observers have suggested that the Title II decision may be reversed after Republicans come to power in January.

On the future of the Title II order, Wheeler first addressed one of the key arguments opponents make about why the ruling is bad for business; namely that it discourages further investment in broadband build-outs. While saying there is no shortage of people willing to frame the numbers to support their own opinions, Wheeler noted that observers should be looking at "investment decision numbers as they are reported to the FCC and to shareholders in which all of the major ISPs are talking about increasing investments."

And, Wheeler pointed out, there's a reason broadband investment is still on an upswing.

"The reason why you make an investment in high-speed broadband is because the margins in high-speed broadband are very good, and I think that will continue and I think that the activities of the companies show that to be the case."

Wheeler also responded to implied criticism that by passing the Open Internet Order along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the ruling vulnerable to future repeal. First he asserted, "A majority is a majority." He then added, "It's hard to reach a compromise with people who say no at the outset," suggesting that a bipartisan ruling was never going to be a possibility.


For more fixed broadband market coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.


Opinions differ over how easily future government leadership could overturn the Title II decision. While Republicans will very soon gain control of the FCC, the White House and both legislative houses of Congress, the Open Internet Order does gain some protection from the judicial system, which upheld the ruling in June. (See FCC Wins Key Net Neutrality Ruling.)

"The court had a rather decisive decision on both the authority and the rationale on the record," Wheeler emphasized, and he suggested that it would be hard to show that the facts have changed dramatically since the ruling was passed.

Wheeler may be being overly optimistic about the judicial protection, but given the more than 4 million public comments submitted to the FCC when the Open Internet Order was under consideration, there's likely to be a serious fight if and when the government does try to roll back the decision.

On a somewhat lighter note, Wheeler graciously expressed his appreciation at today's meeting for the chance to convene with members of the press on a monthly basis, noting that even if the questioning has at times been combative, the dialogue is still important.

"Press conferences force the principal to be ready to answer to the American public," said Wheeler, perhaps trying to draw a line of contrast between himself and President-elect Donald Trump. And he added his thanks to journalists for "keeping me on my toes."

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Muni Policies Stymie Edge Computing
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/17/2017
'Brutal' Automation & the Looming Workforce Cull
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/18/2017
Pai's FCC Raises Alarms at Competitive Carriers
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Worried About Bandwidth for 4K? Here Comes 8K!
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 10/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Selfie Game Strong Click Here
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives