Tuesday, May 14, 2013

President Obama selects Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman

The President has selected Tom Wheeler, former lobbyist for both the cellular and cable industries and a major contributor to the Obama campaign to head the FCC, and AT&T and Comcast are both lauding the appointment.

That smacks cronyism -- the revolving door between industry to government.

I signed a petition to name Susan Crawford next head of the FCC, but will keep an open mind.  Wheeler may have been a lobbyist for the cable and cellular industries, but he was also an Invited Expert by the The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), which issued a report calling for the use of smart radios in sharing federal spectrum. He presumably endorses (or at least understands) the report of the PCAST Spectrum group.

His October 2011 blog post Updating Spectrum Policy provides further evidence that he "gets" IP and unlicensed spectrum. Here are a couple of quotes from that post:

"Exhibit A for 21st century spectrum planning is WiFi. Operating in unlicensed spectrum, WiFi is a cacophony of competing claims for use of the spectrum. The characteristics of Internet Protocol (IP) packets allow WiFi in a Starbucks hotspot, for instance, to operate more efficiently that the licensed spectrum on the sidewalk outside."


"It is time to abandon the concept of perfection in spectrum allocation. The rules for 21st century spectrum allocation need to evolve from the avoidance of interference to interference tolerance. We’ve seen this evolution in the wired network; it’s now time to bring the chaotic efficiency of Internet Protocol to wireless spectrum policy."

Don't forget that fiercely anti-Communist Richard Nixon, opened US relations with China. Perhaps Dark Side lobbyist Tom Wheeler will modernize wireless IP communication.

Update 11/11/2016

This post has turned out to be true -- Tom Wheeler has acted against the wishes of his old industry friends. He turned out to be something of a sheep in wolf's clothing. There is speculation that Donald Trump will reverse Wheeler's stance on network neutrality and I will be pleasantly surprised if his FCC appointees pursue his proposal for a standard TV-interface box that combines the functions of today's set-top boxes and Internet interfaces.

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