Tom Wheeler, the new head at the Federal Communications Commission, said this week told attendees of a policy speech at Ohio State University that he would be OK with internet providers charging companies, like Netflix, for a faster route to home subscribers.
I am a firm believer in the market,” he said. “I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber receives, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve. We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly, but I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation.”
That directly contradicts a rule put in place by Wheeler’s predecessor, which states ” [B]roadband providers that sought to offer pay-for-priority services would have an incentive to limit the quality of service provided to non-prioritized traffic”. It also brings to question Wheeler’s actual views when it comes to net neutrality.
This may come as a shock to some, but let’s take a little look into the history of Wheeler:
President Barack Obama will nominate venture capitalist Tom Wheeler to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported today. Wheeler is “a former top lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries” and will be nominated as soon as tomorrow, theJournal wrote. The Hill reporter Brendan Sasso said the White House has now confirmed that Wheeler will be nominated for the post.
The FCC functions as an independent agency of the government, existing outside the usual federal agencies, which are lead by cabinet secretaries. So if you get really technical about it, this wouldn’t be President Obama going back on his “no lobbyists in my administration” promise, but it does come pretty close. But that still doesn’t let the President off the hook for this pick, especially given the very pro-business stances of his predecessor, Julius Genachowski, President Obama’s previous appointee, who came under heavy scrutiny by advocacy groups.
I must admit that this is very depressing, especially given the fact that the United States falls way behind every other modern nation in terms of internet speed, availability and pricing. We live in a new world economically, where affordable, reliable and fast internet is a must. We need a head at the FCC that realizes this very important aspect to our global survival in a tech economy, but Wheeler now seems more set on protecting the interests of his former employers, rather than those of our nation as a whole. Hopefully some time in office while change Wheeler’s views, as he realizes his goals need to change. If not, then we will face a few more years of increasing struggles to compete, and that is something we really can’t afford.