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Blog // Connect Ohio

Policy Address with Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

By Lyndsey Kleven

Monday, December 2, Connect Ohio attended a policy address and conversation with Tom Wheeler, newly appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. This event, held at The Ohio State University, marked Wheeler’s first major policy address since becoming Chairman.

Wheeler, an active Ohio State alum, chose to step away from the nation’s capital and deliver his address in Columbus to show that, “the American people are our constituency, that how we connect determines how jobs are created and lives are lived.” (read more from the Columbus Dispatch).

Stating that U.S. policy favors Internet freedom, with the Internet being a collection of interconnected entities, Wheeler noted the importance of competition and its value in motivating improvements and ultimate success.

“Here’s the bottom line on competition,” said Wheeler. “Our goal should be to ask how competition can best serve the public and what, if any, action (including governmental action) is needed to preserve the future of network competition in wired and wireless networks.”

Wheeler then touched on the current status of broadband access nationwide. Citing the latest survey data, Wheeler shared that about 70 percent of Americans have adopted basic broadband service; adding mobile adoption to that, 80 percent are accessing broadband from home.

“Having a significant percent of Americans bypassed by the Internet revolution is unacceptable,” he said. “We can’t maximize economic growth and job creation when 20 percent of our population is cut off from the digital economy at home.”

Twenty percent of Americans equates to 15 million people currently living in areas where they can’t get wireline broadband, even if they wanted it.

Moving onto the impacts of broadband on education, Wheeler highlighted a recent survey that found that 80 percent of teachers and school administrators felt they lacked sufficient network capacity to meet educational needs.

“That’s why the Commission is improving our universal service programs, including the E-Rate program for schools and libraries,” Wheeler said. “We are modernizing a program originally conceived to deliver plain old telephone service into programs to ensure broadband access to all Americans, including American schools.

Read Wheeler’s full remarks on the FCC website

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