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A New Day at the FCC

Wheeler outlines broad view

New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the commission is a “pro-competition” agency.

Wheeler told staffers in a meeting on Tuesday that during his confirmation hearing, he described himself as an unabashed supporter of competition because competitive markets produce better outcomes than regulated or uncompetitive markets. “Yet we all know that competition does not always flourish by itself; it must be supported and protected if its benefits are to be enjoyed,” he said.

Outlining his goals, Wheeler said it’s important to promote economic growth, to maintain the historic compact between networks and users and to make networks work for everyone. “Our challenge is to be as nimble as the innovators and network builders who are creating these great opportunities,” he said.

Wheeler, a former telecom and cable lobbyist and venture capitalist says most VC investments don’t work out at intended; “but without taking those risks there can be no big rewards. The industries with which we work are always taking reasonable risks; I hope we won’t shy away from a similar approach.”

Diane Cornell, Wheeler’s new special counsel, will head a temporary working group to look into proposals made by Congress, FCC staff and other stakeholders regarding the way the agency conducts business. He says a report will be on his desk within 60 days. His office will use crowdsourcing too, to gather ideas about rules that are past their prime and procedures that can be improved.

Wheeler praised Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s tenure as acting chairwoman, and said she and her colleagues addressed tough issues during that six-month period.