US telecoms industry betrayed by “puppet”

uktv-captain-scarlet-and-the-mysterons-1When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took over there were some of us who felt that it was not appropriate for a former telco spinner to be in charge of watching over his former bosses.

There were some who implied that Wheeler was a puppet who would do whatever the telcos told him. Industry officials had initially hailed Wheeler’s nomination in 2013 as an “exceptional choice.” Comcast itself commended Wheeler’s “vast knowledge” and “proven leadership”.

Now everyone is having to eat their words as Comcast’s spectacular failure to close its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable has proved us all wrong.

Wheeler is being credited with the collapse of the Comcast merger and 17 months into his tenure, Wheeler’s FCC has emerged as one of the most aggressive regulators in US history.

The merger was expected to be rubber stamped however in September, Wheeler gave a speech in which he said the country lacked sufficient competition in the broadband industry. He said that most people had only two providers to choose from when purchasing the fastest types of Internet service.

Then, in January, the FCC he raised the threshold for what is considered “high-speed” Internet which meant that Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable would have given it control of more than half the US broadband market.

In February Wheeler slapped new restrictions on Internet providers as part of its net neutrality rules, which banned broadband companies from unfairly slowing down or blocking consumers’ access to Web sites. And it made it illegal to speed up Web sites in exchange for payments from content providers.

Observers say that Wheeler, 69, does not need to seek another job when he departs the FCC so he can do what he thinks is right. The Washington Post quoted him as saying: “When I was at CTIA and NCTA, I was an advocate for those interests and I hope I did a very good job as an advocate for them,” Wheeler said. “Today, I have a different client. My client is the American people, and I want to be the best damn advocate they can get.”