FORTUNE -- Tom Wheeler's appointment as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission was about as friction-free as could be, despite the fact that Sen. Ted Cruz threatened to block the nomination over his supposed worries about rules governing disclosure of who pays for political ads. A meeting with Wheeler seems to have calmed Cruz's fears.
Otherwise, Wheeler faced little opposition: He's a former industry lobbyist, but he also has spoken out on issues enough to reveal that he's not in anybody's pocket, and is much more of a policy wonk than a player. He won endorsements from both industry and public-interest groups.
His effectiveness, though, might end up being determined less by how he runs the FCC than by circumstance. That's especially true when it comes to network neutrality rules, which bar Internet service providers from favoring or disfavoring particular flows of online traffic. For instance, Comcast (CMCSA) can't slow down video feeds from Netflix (NFLX), or speed up feeds from NBC, which it owns. Net neutrality advocates warn that if ISPs are given power to discriminate among sources of data, the Internet will cease to exist as we know it and will be just another medium largely controlled by a handful of giant companies.
What happens with net neutrality might end up being determined by a lawsuit filed by Verizon (VZ) against the FCC claiming that the rules violate speech rights. Wheeler has represented both the cable and the wireless industries as a lobbyist, and those are the industries that want more power to control the data that flows over their networks.
But that doesn't necessarily mean Wheeler won't fight hard to preserve the FCC's rules. He represented both of those industries long before either of them were providing Internet service. At his nomination hearing earlier this year, he extolled the benefits of light regulation of industry, but he also said he favors "protecting competition with appropriate oversight to see that it flourishes."
He'll have to employ that worldview on a whole bunch of different matters other than Net neutrality, including mergers and, perhaps what will perhaps be his most challenging and complex task: managing the upcoming spectrum auctions.
For all the scrutiny he's gotten, and for all the support he's won, he remains a bit of a cipher. It's hard to know just what he'll do.
Even in the iPhone's slowest quarter, Apple grabbed 51% of Verizon's activations.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) got some good news Thursday from Verizon (VZ), the first of the big four U.S. carriers to report its Q3 2013 results.
Of the 7.6 million smartphones Verizon activated in the quarter, 3.9 million (51%) were iPhones. That's up from the same quarter last year, when the iPhone accounted for only 46% of 6.8 million.
Given that the third MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 17, 2013 3:15 PM ET
The exception is Apple, which dominates in both brand and operating system loyalty.
FORTUNE -- Given the magnitude of recent telecom deals -- Microsoft (MSFT) offering $7.2 billion for Nokia's (NOK) handset business, Google (GOOG) shelling out $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, Verizon (VZ) paying an astonishing $130 billion to buy out Vodafone's (VOD) 45% stake -- Consumer Intelligence Research Partners asks an interesting question:
What matters most to smartphone customers, the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 5, 2013 4:19 PM ET
3.9 million of the 7.5 million smartphones Verizon activated last quarter were iPhones.
FORTUNE -- When Samsung introduced the Galaxy S4 with Broadway-style fanfare in March, the assumption on Wall Street was that it was going to steal a march on Apple (AAPL), whose newest iPhone was already 6 months old and not getting any younger.
When Samsung sold fewer Galaxy S4s than expected, the assumption on the Street was that the market MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 18, 2013 12:22 PM ET
Facebook's CEO reportedly approached Samsung about making the social network's next phone. Smart move.
FORTUNE -- Remember the first Facebook phone, the HTC First? Not many do -- despite its recent April launch.
The First was Facebook's (FB) first phone with Facebook Home, customized software that modifies areas of Google's (GOOG) popular Android operating system so users can readily check status updates and text friends. The phone is also one of Facebook's biggest MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Jun 20, 2013 6:23 AM ET
What's next for the companies involved in the NSA leaks scandal.
By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- On Sunday, a 29-year-old Booz Allen Hamilton employee named Edward Snowden stepped forward and (via the Guardian) told the world why he chose to make public top-secret National Security Agency documents. The NSA files, particularly those concerning a program called PRISM, describe how the agency could access data from several of America's largest MOREJun 10, 2013 9:23 AM ET
Apple, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have denied participating in the controversial government program. When will one of their employees say otherwise?
By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Thursday night, after the Guardian broke news of Verizon's involvement in a massive domestic spying operation by the National Security Agency, the Washington Post and the Guardian both revealed the existence of a program called PRISM -- a means by which the government gained access MOREJun 7, 2013 11:51 AM ET
Verizon activated 3.2 million iPhones in the same quarter last year.
FORTUNE -- Verizon (VZ) reported Thursday morning that it activated 7.2 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, 4 million of them iPhones.
There are several perfectly legitimate ways to interpret what those numbers mean for Apple (AAPL).
Good for Apple: 4 million iPhones is 25% better than the 3.2 million Verizon activated in the same quarter last year.
Good for Apple: 55.5% MORE
Even if Dish can beat out Softbank to acquire Sprint, the satellite operator would still have lots of work to do to remake the TV-distribution business the way it did in the '80s.
FORTUNE -- Why would a satellite TV operator want to buy a wireless network? Mainly, because the satellite TV business is terrible.
And even in that business, Dish Network (DISH), which on Monday announced a $25.5 billion bid for MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - Apr 16, 2013 11:10 AM ET
It's the biggest shift in technology since the advent of the Internet, and mobile is still only just beginning.
By Kevin Kelleher, contributor
FORTUNE -- "I remember traffic lights before smartphones," sighed a friend as we sat in traffic behind a car that remained still after the light had turned green. Sure enough, the driver's head was tilted downward as if lost in solemn prayer -- or, more likely, a texting/map/music app MOREFeb 20, 2013 8:40 AM ET
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