Bay City News Service — Hecklers complaining about alleged health risks of wireless transmissions disrupted a speech Thursday by the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
Tom Wheeler, a former executive for cable and cellular phone trade
associations who became FCC chair on Nov. 4, had just started a speech about
national telecommunications policy when a heckler stood up.
"Hey, Tom, how many people have to die from brain cancer before
the federal government puts warning labels on cell phones?" said a man in a
suit jacket who appeared to be in his 20s.
The man kept talking despite requests to stop from museum
president John Hollar, who had just introduced Wheeler in the museum's
second-floor Hahn Auditorium at the noon event, sponsored by the Commonwealth
Club of California and recorded for broadcast by KQED-FM.
Two museum staff people pulled the heckler from the crowd and led
him out of the room as he yelled "Profits! Profits!"
In response, Wheeler turned to Hollar and said, "John, it's great
to be here," to laughter from the audience.
Before his speech ended, three more hecklers, one who left by
herself and two others who had to be taken out of the room, interrupted Wheeler.
Wheeler said the country is about to enter a historic "fourth
great network revolution" of equal importance to the printing press, the
railroad and electronic communications that began with the mid-19 century
"This fourth network revolution is the one you all here in the
(Silicon) valley are leading, will continue to lead," Wheeler said.
One part of the new revolution is the transition from the
old-fashioned public switched telephone network, including copper landlines
regulated like a public utility, to the all-Internet protocols over the
less-regulated Internet, Wheeler said.
The spectrum of frequencies that are underused by television
broadcasting, the 600MHz band, will be put up for auction to the highest
bidders in mid-2015, Wheeler said.
The auction would give incentives to TV stations to make money by
selling some of their spectrum for more "flexible uses," such as mobile
services that increasingly need the new space for more customers, Wheeler
"We are attempting something that has never been done before, but
with our original spectrum auctions 20 years ago," he said.