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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wheeler dealings at the Senate

Tom Wheeler, the nominee for FCC Chairman, had a confirmation hearing in the Senate yesterday.  I couldn't find a transcript, so I left the video running while I performed other tasks around the office, hoping that my ears would prick up if I heard "E-Rate" or "Universal Service."  Only two exchanges cut through the fog.

First, Senator Rockefeller asked for a commitment to support the E-Rate.  Mr. Wheeler said, "I've been a supporter of the E-Rate since it first happened, in 1996." The reason he gave:  "When 80% of the E-Rate schools say they're not getting the proper bandwidth for their instructional needs, something needs to be done about that."

Second, Senator Fischer asked Mr. Wheeler a very general question about reforming the funding system for the Universal Service Fund, and he gave an even more general answer.  He did say that the IP transition created challenges, but didn't hint at what he might do about it.

I expected to hear some questions about President Obama's plans to revamp the E-Rate, but if there was any discussion of it, I missed it.

My general impression was that he was pretty knowledgable and at least said all the right things.  My only disappointment is that he did not look much like Michael Keaton or Rutger Hauer, which is what I had expected based on the photo I had seen.

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