recommended reading

New FCC Chairman: Regulating the Internet Is a 'Non-Starter'

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler // Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The new Chairman to the Federal Communications Commission promised to promote competition in the telecommunications industry and hinted that he may limit the amount of spectrum available to AT&T and Verizon for purchase in upcoming spectrum auctions in his first policy speech Monday at The Ohio State University.

"Competition does not and will not produce adequate outcomes in the circumstance of significant, persisting market power or of significant negative externalities," Wheeler said. "Where those occur, the Communications Act and the interests of our society – the public interest – compel us to act and we will."

Wheeler--learning from the snafu--also expressed caution in announcing an auction schedule until the FCC is confident that the auction software is "up to the task."

Spectrum auctions will be the top line item on the FCC's agenda in 2014, as the agency is expected to hold an unique incentive auction to buyback spectrum from TV broadcasters and sell it to wireless providers.

The Chairman's comments on spectrum auctions were part of broader remarks outlining his philosophies for regulation. Wheeler positioned himself as a moderate, calling himself an "unabashed" believer in marketplace competition who is not afraid to enact new regulations to protect public interest.

"Regulating the Internet is a non-starter," said Wheeler. "Assuring that the Internet exists, however, as a collection of open, interconnected entities is an appropriate activity for the people's representatives.

He also touched on other topics that have come up during his first month in office, such as cell phone unlocking and cellular use on airplanes. Wheeler was surprised by the outcry in response to his proposal to lift the ban on cellular lift on airplanes.

Wheeler, an "intrepid history buff", also published a free eBook Monday that explores the history of network revolutions in the U.S. The book was the foundation for his first speech.

Wheeler's speech is expected to be the first of many over the next couple of months.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.