Wheeler is well known to the media industry. He has headed both the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Assn. Most recently he was a managing director at Core Capital, a private equity firm.
"For more than 30 years Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we've seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives," Obama said in announcing Wheeler's appointment. Obama compared Wheeler's stints in both the cable and cellular industries to Bo Jackson, who famously played both football and baseball professionally.
Wheeler was chosen to succeed Julius Genachowski as chairman. Obama called Genachowski an "extraordinary FCC chairman."
Initial reaction to Wheeler's nomination from the industry has been positive, but some media watchdogs have expressed concern about his long ties to businesses he will be charged to regulate.
Wheeler's nomination has to be confirmed by Congress. In the interim, FCC Commissioner Migon Clyburn has been tapped as acting chairman.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.