After decades in and around Washington telecom circles, Wheeler is will take the reins of the FCC as the industry prepares for a major reshuffling of ownership of radio airwaves and as the agency tries to catch up to rapidly changing technology.
Wheeler has served as an informal adviser to Obama in recent years and has been a big fundraiser for his political campaigns. He went into the venture investing business (with Core Capital Partners) after years at the helm of the National Cable Television Association and then the wireless industry group CTIA.
In 2011 Wheeler criticised the broadcast industry for not moving more aggressively to use its airwaves for mobile digital television, or the broadcast of television signals to smartphones. At the same time, he said, broadcasters have been reluctant to let go of the part of the nation’s airwaves, or spectrum, that they do not fully use. The FCC, backed by Congress, is preparing to auction off many of those unused airwaves.