FCC Chairman Wheeler To ISPs: ‘You Don’t Have A Lot Of Competition’

Long before the FCC passed its net neutrality rules, the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, didn't instill much confidence in those who favored them. This hinged on comments Wheeler previously made -- some of which made it sound like he didn't properly understand why net neutrality was important. Fueling this anxiety further was the fact that Wheeler once worked for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Leading up to the passing of net neutrality rules, though, opinions of Wheeler began to do a 180°. Refreshingly, Wheeler's comments were legitimate, and at the end of February, he and two commissioners voted in favor of net neutrality.

Since then, a lot has happened. As anticipated, telcos got up in arms and began to demand that the FCC put an end to, or put a hold on the new rules going into place. With that much pressure, it's hard to fault anyone for thinking that the FCC could buckle.

Tom Wheeler
FCC's Tom Wheeler; Flickr: Haddad Media

But that's not the case. Just a little over a month ago, Wheeler said that net neutrality rules have a strong enough defense to stand up to the opposition.

Wheeler's remained steadfast since then. At this past week's Internet & Television Expo, held in Chicago, Wheeler had a few choice words for companies battling net neutrality. "You don't have a lot of competition, especially at the higher speeds that are increasingly important to the consumer of online video."

A major defense of net neutrality opponents has been that it'll be harder to compete, but Wheeler sees it differently. "More competition would be better." Those are not just words; they're the backbone of real action. He goes on to state: "That is why we granted the preemption petitions filed by two communities that wished to expand their gigabit networks into surrounding areas, including where people had no broadband at all."

This kind of action is important. In recent months, there have been multiple stories about people who've moved into new houses after being given the "a-OK" by ISPs that told them that they'd be able to get fantastic broadband Internet, and then they couldn't. Beyond that, if you're a customer that has access to more than one ISP, you should probably consider yourself lucky. Most don't, and some don't have an option at all - outside of satellite or some other wireless connection.

Based on Wheeler's latest comments, it'd hard to not like how the FCC is handling things lately, and dare I say it, it actually does inspire some confidence into our Internet's future.

Tags:  FCC, net-neutrality