|31st Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission|
November 4, 2013
|Preceded by||Julius Genachowski|
|Born||Thomas Edgar Wheeler
April 5, 1946
Redlands, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||Ohio State University|
Thomas Edgar "Tom" Wheeler (born April 5, 1946) is an American businessman and politician. He is the current and 31st Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a member of the Democratic Party.
He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2013. Prior to working at the FCC, Wheeler worked as a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with positions including President of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).
Wheeler was born on April 5, 1946 in Redlands, California. He attended Ohio State University. From 1969 to 1976, Wheeler led the trade group Grocery Manufacturers of America. He then went on to work at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association from 1976 to 1984, becoming president of the trade group in 1979. For a year until its closure, Wheeler was president of NABU Network, before spending a number of years creating or running several different technology startups. In 1992, he became the CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, a post he held until 2004. From 2005 Wheeler was a technology entrepreneur and executive at Core Capital Partners.
Originally considered a frontrunner for the position, Wheeler was confirmed as the new Federal Communications Commission chief in November 2013 following a confirmation hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Despite a letter written by several prominent former Obama administration officials endorsing Wheeler for the position, many people expressed concern over the consideration of Wheeler for the position due to his history of lobbying for industry.
In recognition of his work in promoting the wireless industry, Wheeler was inducted into the Wireless Hall of Fame in 2003 and in 2009, as a result of his work in promoting the growth and prosperity of the cable television industry and its stakeholders was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame. He is the only member of both halls of fame. Cablevision magazine named Wheeler one of the 20 most influential individuals in its history during cable's 20th anniversary in 1995.
In late April 2014, the contours of a document leaked that indicated that the FCC under Wheeler would consider promulgating rules allowing Internet service providers (ISPs) to violate net neutrality principles by making it easier for Internet users to access certain content — whose owners paid fees to the ISPs (including cable companies and wireless ISPs) — and harder to access other content, thus undermining the traditional open architecture of the Internet. These plans have received substantial backlash from activists, the mainstream press, and some other FCC commissioners. In May 2014, over 100 Internet companies — including Google, Microsoft, eBay, and Facebook — signed a letter to Wheeler voicing their disagreement with his plans, saying they represented a "grave threat to the Internet". As of May 15, 2014, the "Internet fast lane" rules passed with a 3–2 vote. They were then open to public discussion that ended July 2014.
Wheeler stated in January 2015 that the FCC was "going to propose rules that say no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. On January 31, 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying ("with some caveats") Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the Internet in a vote expected on February 26, 2015. Adoption of this notion would reclassify Internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications and, according to Wheeler, ensure US net neutrality. The FCC was expected to enforce net neutrality in its vote, according to the New York Times.
On February 26, 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality by applying Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996 to the Internet.  Wheeler commented, "This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept." On March 12, 2015, the FCC released the specific details of the net neutrality rules. On April 13, 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new "Net Neutrality" regulations.
- Wheeler, Tom. Take Command!: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War. New York: Currency Doubleday, 2000. ISBN 0385495188 OCLC 232697696
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