Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday he will step down on Inauguration Day.
"Serving as FCC Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honour of my professional life", Wheeler said in a statement Thursday. All of them are vocal critics of the net neutrality rules, which are meant to prevent Internet providers from favoring some online content over others.
Wheeler's departure January 20 will leave the agency shorthanded and lopsided - with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner remaining - meaning that conservatives will enjoy an advantage at the agency, as some there have vowed to apply a "regulatory weed-whacker" to the FCC's policies.
Responses are trickling in from consumer advocacy groups, mostly praising Wheeler's tenure at the FCC. His exit is not a surprise: Trump has been widely expected to install new leadership at the agency, and he recently recruited two conservative economists - Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison - for his transition team to focus on the FCC and telecom policy.
During the campaign, Trump said little about the FCC itself.
The rules bar broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane" on the information superhighway, to certain services over others. Stripping the FCC of all three of its Democrats could deny the Republican majority a quorum necessary to do business, said Berin Szoka, president of the right-leaning think tank TechFreedom. Last week, two Republican FCC commissioners said the Trump administration should quickly reverse many significant policies set by the telecommunications and cable regulatory body under Democratic President Barack Obama. For more on Wheeler's departure, read this article here at Wireless Week.