Wheeler Waves Goodbye With Aspen In Sight


WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a speech at The Aspen Institute devoted to the future of U.S. broadband policy and his defense of net neutrality, which is likely to come to an end following the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said his last official words in the role — one that has been contentious, and one that historians may look back on as emblematic of a “lost legacy.”

At times sounding defiant while closing with a heartfelt and nearly teary tribute to his wife and Commission staff, Wheeler highlighted — and stood up — for “assuring that innovation and technology advance” while concurrently preserving the covenants and networks on which consumers across the U.S. rely.

With live coverage on YouTube and on C-SPAN 3 and a Twitter hashtag of “#FutureFCC,” the nearly hour-long discussion made no mention of AM revitalization efforts, or of Wheeler’s attempts to bring a whole new type of set-top box to cable TV consumers. In fact, there was no talk of radio in any way. The only remotely related to TV was a fleeting comment that the FCC was nearing completion of “the world’s first incentive auction” — one that some analysts and critics have doubted will finish, given the need to close a substantial gap in bids between wireless services companies and TV broadcasters.

This address served solely as Wheeler’s opportunity to plea, for one final time as FCC Chairman before joining Aspen as a senior fellow, to keep the Commission’s Open Internet rules.

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