“The Open Internet exists today, and it is under attack.” That was the dire message Tom Wheeler, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, had for the audience of the Benton Foundation hosted event at 1871 on September 18.
What is the Open Internet? Take, for example, the Facebook Live video of his entire speech captured by the 1871 team embedded above. As Wheeler put it, no one had to ask permission from a major internet provider to broadcast it to the world. But the FCC under the current administration has done an about-face in policy, signaling they may be looking to reverse protections for consumers and make it much easier for large broadband providers to restrict access to certain content, throttle up and download speeds and perhaps prevent innovators and entrepreneurs from freely distributing their services.
Wheeler spent much of his keynote speech and the Fireside Chat with 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman warning the audience that the threats to Net Neutrality, which he spent his time as FCC Chairman from 2013 to 2017 vigorously defending in court, are very real.
Dubbed by former President Barack Obama as the “Bo Jackson of Telecom” for his multiple awards and achievements, Wheeler previously spent time as an entrepreneur, starting or helping start multiple companies offering innovative cable, wireless and video communications services. Prior to being appointed Chairman of the FCC by President Obama, Wheeler was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He is CEO of the Shiloh Group, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services. He co-founded SmartBrief, the Internet’s largest curated information service for vertical markets.
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