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FCC Chair Tom Wheeler discusses vision for agency

Published: 2013-12-03

Tom Wheeler

At Ohio State to deliver his first major policy speech as the 31st Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler discussed issues ranging from the critical importance of competition in the telecommunications industry to the government agency’s role — if any — in Internet regulation to ensuring that the Web remains open, accessible, and safe for all Americans.

“Regulating the Internet is a non-starter. What the Internet does is an activity where policy makers must be judiciously prudent and should not be involved,” said Wheeler, a Fisher College of Business alumnus, to an audience of students, faculty, staff and guests inside the Ohio Union. “But assuring the Internet exists as a collection of open, interconnected facilities is a highly appropriate subject.”

Wheeler said we are living in the “fourth great network revolution,” following the printing press, railroad and telegraph.

“Each of the preceding revolutions forever changed the world,” he said. “We should not, therefore, be surprised when today’s network revolution hurls new realities at us with an ever-increasing velocity. At the heart of these changes is this: the new information networks are the new economy . . . Our growth industries are today based on the exchange and use of digital information.”

Wheeler, who earlier in the day met with students from Fisher as well as Ohio State’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences to discuss internship and career opportunities, also said that holding his first major policy speech at his alma mater was no accident.

“I wanted to give these remarks in Columbus not only because of my deep affection for this place, but because I think the dateline of my first speech sends a more powerful message than anything you’ll find in the transcript,” he explained. “It’s a message that the American people are our constituency — that how we connect determines how jobs are created and lives are lived. And that your FCC believes its mission is as integral to the prosperity of the Ohio Valley as Silicon Valley.”

Read the full text of Wheeler’s policy speech here.

Wheeler was sworn in as Chairman of the FCC on November 4. He was appointed by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate. For over three decades, Wheeler has been involved with new telecommunications networks and services. Most recently, he was managing director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in young Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He graduated from Fisher with a BS in international business administration in 1968.

After the policy speech, Wheeler took part in a Q&A session hosted by Mike Thompson of WOSU — and discussed, among numerous other topics, the impact that his college experience, including working at the Ohio Union as a student, had on his career.

“I had a great education at Ohio State, but I had even greater learning experiences,” he said.