Seven months after former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his exit from the Commission, Tom Wheeler is finally preparing to take the regulatory reins. (See FCC Chair Genachowski Sets His Exit.)
The US Senate confirmed Democrat Wheeler as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair late Tuesday after Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas republican, lifted its hold blocking a vote. The Senate also confirmed Republican Michael P. O'Rielly, who will join the FCC as its fifth commissioner.
Wheeler, a former cable and wireless trade association chief and lobbyist, replaces Mignon Clyburn, who has served as interim FCC chairwoman since Genachowski's departure. Clyburn will remain with the agency as a commissioner.
Spectrum allocation and media ownership rules are among the immediate issues likely to face Wheeler as FCC chair. In addition, network neutrality threatens to rear its head once again. Plus, the FCC has put an emphasis on addressing the digital divide and getting more Americans connected to the Internet and broadband.
Numerous industry organizations have released statements welcoming Wheeler to the Commission, including both the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the American Cable Association (ACA) .
Wheeler himself said in a statement: "What excites me about this new responsibility is how we are at a hinge moment of history; the Internet is the greatest communications revolution in the last 150 years. We must all dedicate ourselves to encouraging its growth, expanding what it enables, and assuring its users' rights are respected."
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable