Tom Wheeler

The metachallenges of the metaverse

Online issues such as personal privacy, marketplace competition, and misinformation only become greater challenges in the metaverse. Rather than being distracted by the shiny new bauble, policymakers need to focus on the underlying problems of the digital revolution, which won’t go away with new technological developments.

Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide”

COVID-19 demonstrated the need for speed in digital broadband connections. As more and more members of a household were online simultaneously doing schoolwork or working from home, the need for bandwidth increased.

Changing lives by connecting all Americans to broadband internet

Jackson County Kentucky has one stop light in its 347 square miles—but also high-speed fiber optic internet service to rival any big city. In the coal country of eastern Kentucky, the 800-person town of McKee is the hub of a one-thousand-mile fiber-to-the-home network covering two of the nation’s poorest and most remote counties. The fiber link was built almost entirely with dollars from the federal government. It is a powerful example of the infrastructure of the 21st century and the importance of extending those connections to all Americans.

Rebuilding for the vast scope of FCC responsibilities

In this final installment of the "Build Back Better with Biden FCC", we look at the broad sweep of other—yet no less important—issues which the Federal Communications Commission must deal with as the deciding actor including:

Spectrum: The pathway of the 21st century

As a Commissioner during the Trump administration, Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called out the disarray resulting from the lack of a national spectrum policy. “We are heading into our wireless future with something less than a fully coordinated effort,” she warned. The Biden administration has not repeated the failure to prepare with transition planning.

Restoring non-discrimination to the 21st century’s most important network | Part 4 of Build Back Better with Biden FCC

The ongoing challenge of regulatory oversight in an era of rapid technological change is to maintain the flexibility to deal with unanticipated developments. What is essential for the future of meaningful net neutrality, therefore, is the agility to adjust to new technology and new marketplace behaviors.

Boosting broadband adoption | Part 3 of Build Back Better with Biden FCC

The digital divide and internet equity is more about consumer adoption than it is about network deployment. This paper addresses the adoption problem, how it has been exacerbated by the Trump Federal Communications Commission, and how the Biden FCC will be called upon to think anew and reprioritize in order to connect more Americans. Trump FCC systematically and stealthily worked to weaken the Lifeline program. The Biden FCC’s Build Back Better opportunity for broadband access for low-income Americans has multiple opportunities to reverse that neglect.

The consequences of social media’s giant experiment

The actions of Facebook and Twitter to ban President Donald Trump are protected by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Act. This is the same Section 230 behind which social media companies have sheltered to protect them from liability for the dissemination of the hate, lies and conspiracies that ultimately led to the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. These actions are better late than never. But the proverbial horse has left the barn.

Transitioning tech policy in an existential crisis

Confronting the Biden transition are five existential crises. The pandemic is surging. The economy is stalling. Social justice is faltering. Climate change is on a rampage. And the government that is essential to dealing with each of these problems has been hollowed out by four years of constant attacks. And, oh yes, these issues must be dealt with despite a potentially divided government and deeply divided citizenry. As a tech policy wonk, I am often asked, “How will the Biden transition handle tech policy?” It is the wrong question.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit against Google will not stop Big Tech’s abuses

The abusive practices of the dominant digital platforms are so widespread and have become so embedded that there is no single solution. What is needed is a cocktail of remedies that blends antitrust with ongoing regulatory oversight. The digital-oversight cocktail, therefore, needs to include the ability to establish industry-wide behavioral rules in addition to antitrust enforcement.