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Obama on Why Wheeler’s the Man for the Job

President Obama weighed in on the Federal Communications Commission’s past and future last week when he announced that Tom Wheeler was his pick for chairman and Mignon Clyburn would be interim chair.

When the Federal Communications Commission was founded almost 80 years ago, it was in charge of overseeing a few hundred radio stations and a few million phone lines. And today, the FCC sits at the center of a communications universe that is growing and changing faster than you can tweet. And that’s why Julius Genachowski, who is an old buddy from law school, and had so much success in the private sector as well as previously serving in the FCC — that’s why Julius has had one of the toughest jobs in Washington.

Four years ago, Julius set two priorities as chairman of the FCC: making high-speed Internet available everywhere and keeping it open to everyone. And thanks to his hard work and his leadership, the FCC has made extraordinary progress on both fronts. We’re helping millions more Americans connect to high-speed Internet. We’re unleashing the airwaves to support the latest in mobile technology. We’re protecting the Internet as an open platform for innovation and free speech. And we’re poised to do even more, thanks to Julius’ efforts.

So he has been an extraordinary FCC chairman, but Julius has decided to move on to new challenges on the digital frontier. And so today, it is my great pleasure to nominate Tom Wheeler to take his place.

Now, if anybody is wondering about Tom’s qualifications, Tom is the only member of both the cable television and the wireless industry hall of fame. So he’s like the Jim Brown of telecom, or the Bo Jackson of telecom. And that’s because for more than 30 years, Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives.

He was one of the leaders of a company that helped create thousands of good, high-tech jobs. He’s in charge of the group that advises the FCC on the latest technology issues. He’s helped give American consumers more choices and better products. So Tom knows this stuff inside and out. And I think Julius will attest to that because Julius has benefitted frequently from Tom’s input and advice.

I also want to thank Mignon Clyburn, who has been an incredible asset to the FCC for the last few years. And so Mignon is going to be acting chair until Tom is confi rmed. And together, they’ve got a very important mission — giving businesses and workers the tools they need to compete in the 21st century economy, and making sure we’re staying at the cutting edge of an industry that again and again we’ve revolutionized here in America.