Tom Wheeler is poised to propose some of the toughest rules possible.
On Thursday, Wheeler is expected to present to the commission a set of rules that would treat broadband providers like utilities, effectively denying them the right to charge companies a premium for faster access to consumers and holding them accountable for any attempt to secretly impede the flow of data. When the commission finally approves them — a vote is scheduled for late February — it will mark the most significant rewrite of the rules of the road for the Internet in more than a dozen years and affect the competitive playing field for generations to come.
Wheeler did not speak officially for this report. But interviews with FCC officials, industry executives and representatives of public interest groups reveal the origins of his dramatic pivot on this issue: an intense and relatively brief grass-roots lobbying campaign that targeted two people — him and President Barack Obama.
“We [knew] that Tom Wheeler was going to make the decision on this,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a liberal public interest group. “He was the guy with the most influence over the details, and the question becomes who has the most influence over him, and that is President Obama.”
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