WASHINGTON — President Obama is expected to nominate Tom Wheeler, a friend and telecom-industry executive, as head of the Federal Communications Commission as early as Wednesday, three people familiar with the decision said.
Wheeler, a venture-capital investor,
has served as adviser to both the White House and FCC on technology policy and industry trends.
But to the dismay of some critics, Wheeler comes with deep ties to the nation’s biggest telecom lobbying groups. He has served as head of both the wireless industry’s CTIA trade group and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
“I am skeptical that the former chief lobbyist of the wireless and cable industries will be capable of holding his former clients accountable for their ongoing shortcomings,” said Sascha Meinrath, head of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation think tank.
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Wheeler sits on the board of EarthLink, and his investment firm Core Capital Partners has invested in wireless equipment and data-center technology firms.
That range of industry experience, some experts say, shows a diversity that may serve well for an agency in need of greater technological and business expertise.