Tom Wheeler, President Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is set to speak before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday for his nominations hearing.
A former tech and telecom lobbyist and venture capitalist, Wheeler will focus on his years of experience in the industry to illustrate his knowledge and ability to read shifting trends in the technology space, according to written testimony obtained by The Washington Post ahead of the hearing. But Wheeler may face questions about how he will transition from his role as industry advocate to regulator.
In his testimony, Wheeler notes that his business experience has led him to believe that free, competitive markets perform better than regulated or uncompetitive markets.
“I am an unabashed supporter of competition,” Wheeler says in his testimony, adding that he believes the FCC’s role has evolved to be more hands off and more focused on “promoting and protecting competition with appropriate oversight to see that it flourishes.”
He does, however, outline his support for programs that help consumers and the government move into the technological age, such as those focused on improving access to broadband networks or updating the technology issued to first responders.
He also noted that there should be improvements in the E-Rate program, which provides Internet access discounts to schools and libraries.
Expansion of the E-rate program will be the focus of Commerce committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.W.), according to a spokesman from the committee. Rockefeller, one of 37 senators who recommended that FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel be nominated to the chairman’s position, has made it clear that improving the E-Rate program is one of his top technology priorities.
“Updating the E-Rate program is critical to helping students become competitive in the global economy," Rockefeller said in a statement ahead of the hearing. “Particularly in our rural and urban communities, we have a moral obligation to give our young ones the tools to succeed.”