On December 15, 2016, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, after more three years at the helm of the agency, announced he intends to leave the Federal Communications Commission on January 20, 2017. The following is an excerpt of a statement from Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
In reviewing the successes of the last year, but, more broadly, the last three years, the person I keep returning to is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.
To me, what is amazing about his many accomplishments can’t always be measured by the dockets he opened, the votes he won, or the initiatives he proposed. The day-to-day impacts of his actions can often be more readily seen in the child who can now reach a hand across a keyboard to access a whole new universe of knowledge thanks to gigabit connections to the school and Wi-Fi in the classroom. Or in the young mother who can now coordinate work and her child’s medical care thanks to her Lifeline connection. Or the small business owner who can now compete on a level playing field with its bigger business competitors thanks to a free and open Internet. Or the community that was once left behind, that is able to get ahead with new broadband options.
In other words, it’s not the orders he voted or the computers he connected, but the lives he touched in ways both big and small. I expect they will be felt not just for a year, or a chairman’s term, but in the case of that little girl … it just may change her life.