But now that Rosenworcel is on her way out and Wheeler expected to step down next month, the Republicans are set to hold a 2-1 majority at the FCC starting in 2017. Moreover, President-elect Donald Trump, who will officially become President this coming January, is also looking to appoint new FCC leadership in order to reverse the net neutrality rules.
So what happens if the net neutrality rules are reversed? Almost certainly, web service providers will be granted the ability to set up a two-way toll in which consumers will be charged for access to the Internet. Not only that, websites will also be charged for priority access to the worldwide web in order to reach users. Obviously, not all websites will be able to afford this type of priority access. What will likely happen is that these marginalized websites will relegated to slower connection speeds, basically making it even more difficult for them to compete with the big names.
Right now, the FCC leadership consists of a total of five commissioners. Three of those five commissioners usually represent the party of whoever is President. Now that Rosenworcel is out, the FCC leadership will be made up of four commissioners -- two Republicans and two Democrats. When Trump becomes President, he will move to appoint a new chairman of the FCC. Whenever a new administration comes along, the current chairman of the FCC typically steps down, but is not required to. This means that if he wants to, Wheeler can stay as a commissioner, but under the leadership of a new chairman appointed by Trump. Wheeler’s term is supposed to end in 2018, and when he leaves by then, the expectation is that Trump will nominated a new commissioner to replace Rosenworcel.
Trump has not picked anyone yet, but it is worth noting that the two advisers he appointed for his transition team, namely Mark Jamison and Jeff Eisenach, are both opposed to net neutrality. Still, even if an FCC under Trump will undoubtedly reverse net neutrality, the current rules will not vanish right there and then. The FCC will likely initiate a new process for reversing the rules, and that may take more than a year, at least.