Late January, FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Tom Wheeler is said to step down as representative of the agency. The same day president-elect Donald Trump assumes his position at the White house.
Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, plans to leave his position as chairman on January 20th, the day president-elect Donald Trump replaces president Barack Obama. Wheeler was appointed chairman of the FCC by Obama in 2013 after serving as a member of president Obama’s initial transition team and heading the wireless industry trade association CTIA.
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During his four years as chairman, Wheeler successfully headed the FCC’s controversial Open Internet ruling, discouraged a potential merger between Sprint and T-Mobile US (currently being reconsidered), and announced the Spectrum Frontiers initiative. In particular, he oversaw the FCC investigation against Marriott International that revealed that the company deployed a wi-fi deauthentication protocol to block the use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots, and negotiated the TP-Link settlement that forced the vendor to allow the installation of third-party open source firmware on its routers. In fact, he supervised highly influential FCC decisions regarding the telecommunications sector including two spectrum auctions covering the AWS-3 and H-Block bands. Unfortunately, it is likely that he will not be in office to see the conclusion of the ongoing 600 MHz incentive auction proceedings.
Wheeler’s departure during the transition to the president-elect is not a standalone case. It is very common to see many leadership changes post-presidential elections, particularly in government agencies, especially if there is a change in the presidential political affiliation.