c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Monday that he intended to aggressively promote and protect competition in the telecommunications industry, including making sure that smaller mobile phone companies have a reasonable chance of winning the auctions of public airwaves scheduled for next year.

The chairman, Tom Wheeler, also said that the FCC would continue to ensure that the Web remained fully open, allowing users “to access all lawful content” regardless of what company provides the Internet service.

The remarks, which Wheeler made at The Ohio State University, his alma mater, are the first public outline of his priorities since he was installed as chairman.

“The FCC has been in the forefront of promoting and protecting competitive approaches for decades, very often in the face of opposition from established interests of every description,” Wheeler said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “Here’s one very simple example: It’s because of the FCC that you have multiple competitive choices for your mobile phone service.”

He further noted that T-Mobile and Sprint had attracted “significant investment capital to build out their networks and increase competition” since the FCC and the Justice Department stopped AT&T’s bid to take over T-Mobile in 2011.

Wheeler said the protection of competition would apply to the coming auctions of additional airwaves, or spectrum, for mobile broadband. In April, the Justice Department said in a letter to the FCC that it could help to protect competition by ensuring that the two largest companies — AT&T and Verizon — are not allowed to use their financial might to buy up all the available spectrum being auctioned, shutting out smaller carriers.

“A key goal of our spectrum allocation efforts is ensuring that multiple carriers have access to airwaves needed to operate their networks,” Wheeler said.

In the speech, Wheeler also stressed the agency’s commitment to enforcing its so-called Open Internet rules, which forbid Internet service providers to favor their own content or paid content when allowing data to flow through their system. That policy, also known as net neutrality, is being challenged in federal court.

Many of these policies are discussed in a free e-book that Wheeler is publishing, titled “Net Effects: The Past, Present and Future Impacts of Our Networks.”