Trump's Telecom Policy? Who Knows?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very different views on technology and innovation policy, according to a new report from a nonpartisan policy think tank. And when it comes to telecom policy, specifically, the Democratic presidential nominee has laid out some very specific plans around wireless spectrum, broadband funding and even the Internet of Things, while the Republican candidate has been largely silent.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) looked in detail at the two US presidential candidates' policy statements and public comments on a range of issues including innovation and R&D, broadband and telecommunications policy, training of skilled workers, the Internet and the digital economy and more. You can find the full report here.

What it largely found was that Clinton has detailed positions on a number of issues, and specifically addressed how she would stimulate innovation and develop better high-tech training programs, whereas Trump's positions were largely unspecified.

The ITIF, which features a board of directors and leadership team carefully divided between Republicans and Democrats, has done this for past elections and is careful not to endorse either candidate, nor did they review the policies proposed by third-party candidates.

For the 2016 election, the report states the task of comparing the two major party candidates was much harder, because Trump has offered very few specifics while Clinton is offering up detailed plans.

Broadband and telecom policy is one area where the comparison between the two was stark: Clinton has laid out policies on re-purposing spectrum for next-gen wireless usage and support for 5G through licensed and unlicensed spectrum; developing a national "civic" Internet of Things; putting $25 billion into a national infrastructure bank to help fund broadband projects; public-private partnerships for broadband as well; re-doing the Communications Act; digital literacy programs for Lifeline recipients and much more.

Trump's only known telecom position is based on a tweet he issued, deriding the Open Internet Rules as "a top-down power grab" by President Obama that would target conservative media.

Want to learn more about how the telecom market is evolving? See our Business Transformation content channel here on Light Reading.

"We really have no way of knowing what a Trump presidency would look like in terms of telecom policy," says Doug Brake, telecom policy analyst with ITIF. Around Washington, there is some confusion as to whom Trump might name to the FCC or who he might work with on telecom and broadband policies, he says.

"It's pretty remarkable when you line them up side-by-side," Brake says. "You can quibble with her proposals but Clinton has put a lot more thought and effort into designing a technology and telecom platform."

Regarding innovation, where ITIF is very interested, what specifics Trump provides are largely focused on reducing government barriers, such as taxes and regulations, to benefit the overall economy. He hasn't specifically discussed innovation.

Clinton does explicitly address innovation, and wants to expand public-private partnerships to drive a US innovation and technology policy, and use such efforts to achieve social goals, such as "revitalizing economically distressed communities and regions and supporting economic opportunities among disadvantaged minorities and other groups," the report notes.

Trump has spelled out his position on trade policies much more thoroughly, and in that area he and Clinton aren't as far apart, as both opposed expanding trade and focus on trade enforcement to benefit and protect US interests, the report states.

On policy related to education and skills, however, there are clear differences between the two that could impact the tech community, the report notes. Trump's stance against H1-B visas and his proposal to ban Muslims from coming into the US could impact the availability of highly skilled workers. Clinton, by contrast, would give green cards to foreign-born graduates of accredited US Master's and PhD programs in science, technology, engineering and math; and has multiple specific proposals to increase training programs, train more computer science teachers, and improve STEM training and education overall.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
mendyk 9/8/2016 | 10:44:15 AM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. Exactly. And this will be a great great thing once we stipulate that all boxes must be branded with a certain name in solid gold letters.
TV Monitor 9/8/2016 | 10:38:43 AM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. mendyk

"And we will get China to pay for it all."

And the scary thing is that China would gladly pay tens of billions of dollars to put a Chinese telco in the US with tens of thousands of Huawei/ZTE basestations across the US.
mendyk 9/8/2016 | 8:58:12 AM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. He will have the Best People working on this. And the results will be Very Very Amazing. And we will get China to pay for it all. That much I can tell you.
DanJones 9/7/2016 | 5:33:41 PM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. Well Wheeler's term isn't up til 2018. Unless Trump wins and tries to change the rules/term limits. But that's a lot of ifs and maybes though.
brooks7 9/7/2016 | 2:57:36 PM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. I saw a CNN piece on people working for both campaigns to get the 4K or so political appointees lined up for transition.  I can't imagine that FCC Chairman is in the top 100 but might be in the top 400.


James_B_Crawshaw 9/7/2016 | 2:52:17 PM
Re: Trump FCC chair Bernie Ebbers perhaps?
cnwedit 9/7/2016 | 2:12:45 PM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. Yeah, I noted that below. And as the telecom analyst I spoke to mentioned, there's a lot of nervousness in DC about who a Trump FCC chair might be since he's left few clues.

DanJones 9/7/2016 | 1:28:10 PM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. Sure, but the next president -- whoever that is -- will get to appoint the new FCC chair.
cnwedit 9/7/2016 | 1:20:57 PM
Re: He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. So not to go all fact-y on you or anything, but FCC appointments have terms and there are limits to what one president can do. The terms are five years, and the president is technically only supposed to name the chair. 

But if Trump wins, he may change the rules entirely. 

DanJones 9/7/2016 | 1:18:35 PM
He's Actually Said One Thing That Might Be Important. Remember when he said he would sweep Obama appointees in govt. out ASAP. We can only imagine what a Trump-driven FCC might look like.

Otherwise its nonsensical stuff like getting Bill Gates to shut down the Internet.

See: http://www.lightreading.com/business-employment/women-in-comms/clinton-tech-plan-draws-sharp-contrast-to-trumps-thinking/d/d-id/724470
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Sign In