FCC Chairman Wheeler Is Just As Bad As We Thought He’d Be

Brad Reed | BGR | April 30, 2014

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that former cable lobbyist and current Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t a cynical shill for big business and is being completely sincere in his latest blog post about “finding the best path forward” in “defending” the open Internet. I begin with this premise because even if we take Wheeler’s statements at face value, he’s still showing a completely wrong-headed approach to regulation that I’ve long found disconcerting ever since I read his take on why AT&T should have been allowed to buy T-Mobile.

For those of you who don’t recall, Wheeler said back in 2011 that the government should approve AT&T’s plan to buy T-Mobile as long as AT&T agreed to “a consent decree to pseudo-regulatory behavioral standards” that would hopefully be pushed out to the rest of the wireless industry at some point. Wheeler even conceded that such consent decrees are “traditionally for a limited duration,” but he also said that “such concepts once established with the largest carrier could have been lifted into subsequent consent decrees for other carriers and even into the terms for subsequent spectrum auctions.”

As we now know, the FCC under former chairman Julius Genachowski was instrumental in blocking the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and the wireless industry is much, much better off for it. Instead of having two massive carriers and a doomed Sprint, we now have a much more competitive industry where T-Mobile has made aggressive moves to win over customers and force Verizon and AT&T out of their comfort zones. In this instance, the best option was to simply preserve a competitive market and give consumers multiple options for choosing their wireless providers...