Communications

Highlights from Tom Wheeler’s Final Speech as FCC Chairman

January 19, 2017  • Charles M. Firestone

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave his final public address, entitled “A Time to Look Forward, Protecting What Americans Now Enjoy,” at the Aspen Institute on January 13. Wheeler described a fork in the road toward two potential paths for the future of U.S. telecommunications policy. One path leads forward, he said, to an era of internet service providers operating responsibly under light regulation, while the other path moves backwards, leaving consumer protections in question.

Wheeler’s insights and argument for the path forward underscore much of the concerns expressed during the 31st Annual Conference on  Communication Policy held in August last year. In the report Setting the Communications Policy for the Next Administration (available today), dialogue participants from both parties offer recommendations to promote inclusion and expand opportunities for all citizens, encourage continued investment and innovation, and offer strategies to create a trusted online environment to protect citizens’ digital lives.

In addition to hosting Chairman Wheeler’s final remarks, the Aspen Communications and Society Program is pleased to welcome him into our group as a Senior Fellow. Wheeler is the sixth successive FCC chairman to join the Institute after leaving government, making this a 20-year, bipartisan tradition. We look forward to his guidance for our program and future projects, and we are eager to learn from his reflections on issues of the future.

The Institute remains a non-partisan forum for diverse leaders in the field to address the pressing issues of our time.  For more information on previous FCC chairmen to join the Institute, please see below:

2009-2013: Julius Genachowski

2005-2009: Kevin Martin

2001-2009: Michael Powell

1997-2001: William E. Kennard

1993-1997: Reed Hundt

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