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Wheeler Appointment Gets Applause All Around

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 10:13am
Andrew Berg

President Obama's appointment of longtime wireless veteran Tom Wheeler as the next chairman of the FCC was met with applause from most of the industry. 

CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent said in statement that Wheeler has a "deep understanding of communications issues, a passion for hard work and creative thinking, a diverse background that spans the realm of the Internet world and a keen understanding of how mobile wireless broadband can drive our economy and innovation."

Wheeler, a member of venture capital firm Core Capital since 2005, has founded multiple companies offering cable, wireless, and video communications services, and co-founded SmartBrief, the online targeted news service. In 2009, he led the Obama-Biden Transition Project's Agency Review Working Group in charge of transitions for the science, technology, space and arts agencies.

Wheeler was also president of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1979 to 1984. He was also CEO of CTIA until 2004, when Steve Largent took over the post. 

CCA President & CEO Steve Berry, also welcomed Wheeler to the post, saying Wheeler's business experience and knowledge of the industry make his a good fit for the job. 

Berry also congratulated Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who will serve as Interim Chairwoman, as Wheeler awaits confirmation. 

Even Gordon Smith, president and CEO of National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been at odds with current chairman Julius Genachowski over upcoming incentive auctions, said in a statement that he welcomes Wheeler's nomination. 

"He has the experience and temperament to serve the agency with distinction, and we look forward to working with him," Smith said. 

AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have all put out statements welcoming Wheeler's appointment. 

AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President, Jim Cicconi, called the choice of Wheeler an "inspired pick," but warned of "daunting challenges.  

"Already the pace of technological change is clashing with outdated laws, antiquated rules, and approaches more rooted in the past than the present," Cicconi wrote. "If the pace of change is to continue, along with the investment and job creation that fuel it, the mission of the FCC in the 21st Century must be re-examined, and its rules and methods modernized."

Even consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge had good things to say about Wheeler.  

Gigi Sohn, President and CEO of Public Knowledge, said she has known Wheeler for 10 years and thinks he will be "independent" and "proactive." 

“I also expect that he will carry out the President’s communications policy agenda, which includes strong open Internet requirements, robust broadband competition, affordable broadband access for all Americans, diversity of voices and serious consumer protections, all backed by vigorous agency enforcement," Sohn wrote in a statement.

Wheeler has been an informal advisor to President Obama on matters of telecommunications issues. Obama said his choice for FCC Chair “has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives.” 

"He was one of the leaders of a company that helped create thousands of good, high-tech jobs," the President said. "He’s in charge of the group that advises the FCC on the latest technology issues. He’s helped give American consumers more choices and better products."

 
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