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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to resign

By Allen Cone
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday he will depart when Donald Trump becomes president on Jan. 2. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday he will depart when Donald Trump becomes president on Jan. 2. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday he will leave the agency when Donald Trump becomes president Jan. 20.

"Serving as FCC Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life," Wheeler said in a statement. "It has been a privilege to work with my fellow commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans."

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It is customary for the FCC chairman to resign when a new administration takes over. But Wheeler didn't publicly commit to stepping down until Thursday.

This means the normally five-person FCC panel will start the Trump administration with a 2-1 Republican majority. The Senate did not re-appoint Democrat Jessica Rosenworce, and she will have to leave the commission by Jan. 3.

The FCC panel includes a maximum of three from each party. The president selects the chairman.

Wheeler, 70, was appointed by Barack Obama in 2013 and his term runs out in 2018.

He was managing partner of Core Capital Partners and previously chief executive officer of Shiloh Group LLC -- both mainly involved in the telecommunications industry. He led the National Cable Television Association from 1979-84 and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association from 1992-2004.

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With Republican control of the FCC, the net-neutrality rules passed by Congress in 2015, which limit how Internet service providers handle web traffic, are at risk. Trump has named critics of net neutrality to his transition team and Republicans want the regulations scrapped, saying they are burdensome on companies.

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