Wheeler announces ?Fourth Network Revolution?

Sworn in earlier this month, new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wasted little time in announcing the Fourth Network Revolution. According to Wheeler’s blog post today, that is “a multi-faceted revolution that advances as the packets of Internet Protocol (IP)-based communication replace the digital stream of bits and analog frequency waves.” In short, the transition from copper to IP.

Wheeler took the opportunity to move the regulatory process of this transition along. He pointed out that the FCC has received “more than 400 comments, letters, and presentations from companies and organizations, including incumbent carriers; rural carriers; competitive carriers; cable companies; wireless providers; VoIP providers; federal, state and local government entities; telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers; public safety entities; and public interest organizations.”

The next step is to act on the IP transition and Wheeler “signaled he wants to vote on an order at the January public meeting to speed transition trials.”

Despite pressure from some carriers and pro-business organizations, Tom Wheeler doesn’t seem inclined to simply lift all telecommunications regulations. Instead, Wheeler foresees that the order to begin IP testing “should set forth the best process that the Commission can initiate so that, in parallel, it may decide the legal and policy questions raised by this network revolution.”

Speed Matters urges that any transition include CWA’s Six Public Interest Principles. These should guide Commission policies to:

1.     stimulate investment in high-speed networks
2.     support quality jobs in the telecommunications industry
3.     promote quality, affordable service to all Americans
4.     ensure network reliability
5.     promote public safety
6.     protect consumers

The IP Transition: Starting Now (Tom Wheeler blog, FCC, Nov. 19, 2013)

Wheeler Signals IP Transition Order For January (Broadcasting & Cable, Nov. 19, 2013)

Six Principles for Telecom Regulation in an all-IP world
(Speed Matters, Mar. 7, 2013)