Go Tom Wheeler!

WARNING: This post is pop-culture heavy.

Did you by any chance read the (re)post I made recently about net neutrality and why it is so very, very important? Did you at least watch John Oliver’s video about it all? One of the huge complaints about it all is that Tom Wheeler, a former cable company lobbyist, was appointed as head of the FCC, the very commission whose task it is to oversee the regulation of the Internet and its providers. How could we ever hope to keep providers like Comcast and Verizon and Time-Warner Cable in check, preventing them from charging us higher prices for inferior service with him there? More importantly, how could we achieve Net Neutrality, in which all bits are treated equally, or especially Title II classification in which the Internet is considered a utility, like power or water and regulated as such, with a person like that in charge of it all?

Do you remember that scene in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader finally became good, realizing the error of his ways and defeating the emperor? Or when the police in Hot Fuzz suddenly realized Sergent Angel was right and Sandford was a lie? Or when the Grinch’s heart grew two sizes that day? Apparently something similar has happened to Tom Wheeler. He’s no longer Grinch Vader, and is becoming more like the Sandford police every day. He recently oversaw the commission redefining broadband as 25 megabits per second download speeds, and 3 megabits per second up, a big increase from what it used to be – 4mbps down and 1mbps up – which also happens to be where the providers wanted it to stay.

Something similar has happened to Tom Wheeler

Something similar has happened to Tom Wheeler

Not only that, he actively and ruthlessly mocked the claims of cable companies and other Internet service providers who claim faster speeds aren’t necessary, while at the very same time trying as hard as they can to get customers to sign up for their faster-speed plans.

I’m as shocked at this seeming change of heart as anyone, and believe me we all are. as a couple of those links show, he even wants to lift state laws preventing municipalities form offering their own Internet service!

Inside I’m doing a cautious, yet joyful, dance. A Safety Dance, but not that Safety Dance. Why the caution? Because I’m wondering when the ball will drop, what the big catch is. it’s such a remarkable change from what we expected, from what John Oliver predicted, from what the doomsayers including myself prophesied, that I feel as though something has to give. Here we thought his appointment would be the end of the Internet as we knew it, but maybe it’s about to be the beginning.

Fingers crossed.