But he made the broader point that unraveling the open internet order could undermine the commission's other work in regulating broadband providers, such as the privacy regulations it advanced under Wheeler's tenure as chairman.
And he noted that, in all likelihood, there will be efforts in the new congress to roll back recent FCC regulations, which could be a more effective avenue for net neutrality critics than trying to undo the rules within the commission, where procedural hurdles loom.
Wheeler pointed to industry figures reporting substantial investment in broadband infrastructure before and since the enactment of the open internet order as evidence that the regulation had not chilled capital expenditures in network infrastructure as opponents had warned.
"Where's the fire?" he asked, painting a binary choice for policymakers going forward.
"It now falls to a new set of regulators, to a new FCC and to those who advocate before it and the Congress to determine the road that they want to take from here," Wheeler said. "We are at a fork in that road. One path leads forward and the other leads back to relitigating solutions that are demonstrably working."
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