President Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler, a friend and telecom industry executive, as head of the Federal Communications Commission as early as Wednesday, three people familiar with the administration’s decision said.
Wheeler, a venture capital investor, would take over an agency struggling to keep up with enormous changes in the telecom industry as consumers turn to mobile devices and ultra-fast broadband Internet for news, communications and video entertainment.
Those policy issues would be fresh on the mind of the FCC nominee, who has served as adviser to the White House and the FCC on technology policy and industry trends.
But to the dismay of some critics, Wheeler comes with deep ties to the nation’s biggest telecom lobbying groups. He has served as head of the wireless industry’s CTIA trade group and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, among the most powerful and deep-pocketed lobbying groups in Washington.
“I am skeptical that the former chief lobbyist of the wireless and cable industries will be capable of holding his former clients accountable for their ongoing shortcomings,” said Sascha Meinrath, head of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation think tank.