The DCIA salutes incoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and looks forward to working with his new administration to continue broadband development initiatives spearheaded by former Chairman Julius Genachowski and to launch additional endeavors that will help advance the distributed computing industry.
Chairman Wheeler’s carefully chosen staff includes Chief of Staff Ruth Milkman, Senior Counselor Phil Verveer, Head of the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force Jon Sallet, Special Counsel Diane Cornell, Special Counsel for External Affairs Gigi Sohn, Acting Managing Director and Advisor to the Chairman for Management Jon Wilkins, Acting Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Roger Sherman, and Legal Advisors to the Chairman Daniel Alvarez, Maria Kirby, and Renee Gregory.
The new Chairman takes over the Commission at a time when the speed of innovation of Internet-based services in the private sector holds promise to continue at a breathtaking pace, and the potentially beneficial impacts to society and the economy of transformative technologies which rely on network connectivity — with cloud computing arguably chief among them — are nothing short of enormous.
At the same time, the challenges to continued advancement have never been greater due to several factors, ranging from threats to end-users’ trust of their network operators and service providers as a result of old and new abuses; to threats to innovators’ abilities to deploy new offerings as a result of unchecked hampering by threatened industry incumbents whose entrenched business models are being disrupted by these advances.
President Obama could not have nominated a better candidate for FCC Chairman than Tom Wheeler, whose breadth of experience and track record of accomplishments uniquely qualify him for this role.
We’re pleased that the Chairman has tasked Diane Cornell with heading a temporary working group over the next two months to identify FCC regulations that are past their prime and FCC procedures that can be improved upon — and to employ crowdsourcing, among other methods, as a contemporary communications technique to be employed by this group.
DCINFO readers should seize this opportunity to be a part of that crowd.
If successful, this effort will help prioritize matters the Commission needs to address to ensure continued expansion of such promising areas as mobile cloud computing, big data, and the migration to IP transport of high-value multimedia.
The concepts behind “content everywhere available to each person at any time” have an excellent chance of moving closer to reality under Chairman Wheeler’s expert guidance.
We are also heartened by Chairman Wheeler’s acknowledgment of the Commission’s responsibility “to act in the public interest, convenience, and necessity” to assure that innovation and technology advance with speed while preserving the relationship of trust between networks and those connected by them.
And we’re thrilled by his description of himself as “an unabashed supporter of competition because competitive markets produce better outcomes than regulated or uncompetitive markets.”
An increase in wireless broadband spectrum is an obvious need at this time.
But our chief concerns as a new and formative industry center on two other areas: privacy violations by unbridled over-reaching federal agencies; and collusive resistance to change by entrenched industries whose power structures permit and support anti-competitive behavior.
Specifically, we need resolution of the issues that threaten our continued growth internationally as a result of Edward Snowden’s exposures of scandalous NSA practices.
And even more importantly, we need resolution of the real issues at the core of the Aereo broadcast retransmission dispute.
An extension of compulsory licensing to this new technology could provide a stopgap measure to end the current litigation, protect the now necessary dual revenue streams for over-the-air TV stations, and enable innovators like Aereo and FilmOn to emerge from the shadow of copyright infringement.
Our view of the real problem here goes much deeper, however.
And it is that independent IPTV needs to be legitimized as a multichannel video program distribution (MVPD) channel and enabled to enter into carriage agreements with television programming services.
It’s time for the realtime distribution of TV channels to break free from the current limitations that shackle them — of only being licensed for exclusive delivery by broadband network operators.
The future can best be secured with the support of a pro-competition FCC by encouraging and not discouraging investment, by nurturing and not stifling innovation; by increasing and not reducing competitive opportunities, by protecting and not violating the trust of consumers, and by ensuring that the benefits of new communications technologies are accessible to all and not just a few.
We are fully aware that the FCC alone does not have the power unilaterally to address the issues that are posing such serious threats to the further advancement of our industry, the economy, and society at large.
But the Commission’s abilities to advise Congress and to influence other agencies are strong, and its leadership in these areas can be unequalled in the federal government.
And to fulfill its role as the "Optimism Agency," act it must, and as Chairman Wheeler has requested, act nimbly. Share wisely, and take care.