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Thursday, December 15, 2016

And so the Wheeler turns...

Well, it's official, Chairman Wheeler resigned effective January 20, 2017, the day President Trump is inaugurated.With the Senate not confirming Commissioner Rosenworcel before recess, she's gone, too.

So we're down to 2 Republicans and 1 Democrat.  The new prez will nominate 2 more commissioners, a Republican and a Democrat.  Well, actually, the rule is that the commission can't have more than 3 commissioners from any party, so maybe he could nominate a Republican and someone who doesn't belong to either party.  Normally that would be out of the question, but with this President....

Then the Senate has to approve the nominees.  The tradition has been that both nominees would be confirmed at the same time, but we may see that convention go by the wayside.  Will the Democrat get the Garland treatment?  Or will the President dilly-dally on nominating the non-Republican?

And what does it mean for the E-Rate?  Well, Commissioner Pai said, "We need to fire up the weed whacker...."  But it sounds like he's really gunning for Net Neutrality, municipal broadband and the like.  And a while a weed whacker sounds painful, we managed to survive Chairman Wheeler's "Strike Force."  And it's not guaranteed that Pai will become Chairman.  I suppose on January 21 Pai will be in charge at least until the other commissioners are appointed, but I don't know what he'll be able to do in the interregnum.

Commissioner Pai did float a proposal to dramatically simplify the program.  What should he focus on first?  Dump the 470!  If the program is simplified, that might be bad for consultants.  But I have faith in our government: every time the FCC "simplifies" the program, it confuses people and drives them into the arms of consultants.

Farewell, Chairman Wheeler.  You were a much better chairman that I expected.  And you've got to like someone who can laugh when he gets called a dingo.

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