Chief claims FCC ‘firmly focused on the future’

The Federal Communications Commission is setting a course for the next generation of communications technology, according to Chairman Tom Wheeler.

In a blog post on Friday, the FCC chief said his commission was “firmly focused on the future” and was making moves to “help seize the opportunities of today’s network revolution.” 

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Among those is an effort to switch the country’s phone lines from traditional copper wires to Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks. At its monthly meeting in June, the FCC will hear a status update on voluntary experiments AT&T has designed to see how that shift affects users.

At the June meeting, the commission will also hear about work being done to give “new and diverse voices” access to FM radio, the FCC announced on Friday.

More generally, the agency is also making moves toward redistributing the nation’s airwaves from broadcast stations to wireless companies, connecting rural parts of the country to broadband Internet and trying “to find the best way to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression,” he added.

The last issue, which involves the commission’s proposed net neutrality rules, has gotten it in the most hot water of late. Liberals worry that the draft rules would allow for online “fast lanes” that wealthy companies could use to dominate the Web, while conservatives fear that any regulation of the Internet would inherently limit online freedom.

In his blog post, Wheeler also marked the momentous events in communications technology.

Saturday, for instance, will be the 170th anniversary of the first ever telegraph message. Exactly 18 years later, Abraham Lincoln became the first president to regularly use electronic communications by sending nine telegraph messages to generals fighting in the Civil War.