Despite previous tangles with U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump on Twitter, T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Friday issued a statement encouraging the American people to come together and carry on in the wake of shocking election upset that has spurred protests across the country.
“During times of change we can either stand up, unite and support one another – or tear down and attack one another. I am asking you to unite,” Legere said. “This election stunned the world. But we are all citizens of one of the greatest countries in the world and the people here at T-Mobile are some of the best in America. If anyone can lead by example and support each other through this transition, it is all of you.”
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam last week also called for unity, saying the country should focus on “building and rebuilding infrastructure and promoting the deployment of a digital superhighway to support game-changing innovation that makes lives better.”
But the path forward for the telecom industry appears murkier than most thanks to a dearth of information about Trump’s positions on technology and wireless.
As of June of this year, Trump had not released a detailed technology policy proposal on his campaign website. On Monday, however, the site did include a section on cybersecurity in which Trump said he would “order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.”
But beyond cybersecurity, Trump does not appear to have public positions on a number of issues critical to the wireless telecom industry, including 5G, patent reform, infrastructure investment, and spectrum policy.
In an October 2015 interview with Breitbart Tech, Trump said he is a “big believer in technology” and “will be a strong supporter of expanding tech capabilities in the United States.” Trump, however, noted he thinks the “increased dependence and addiction to electronic devices is unhealthy,” but said he believes “we will find a balance” as technology trends continue to progress.
Since that time, there has been little update on Trump’s thoughts on tech.
According to a recent report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Trump has not put forth any position on wireless spectrum, 5G, or the Communications Act update. On Title II and Net neutrality, ITIF found Trump has not put forth a proposal, but has in the past criticized the FCC’s Net neutrality order on Twitter as “another top down power grab.” ITIF also found Trump has expressed opinions in favor of forcing companies to help crack encrypted devices as when the FBI asked Apple for help accessing the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche in a note to investors last week said much of the future for telecom under a Trump administration hinges on who he appoints to head the FCC.
“If the rhetoric of those surrounding Trump’s campaign rings true, we can expect a Republican FCC to make a big push to roll back some of the regulations put in place under President Obama such as the Title II/Net Neutrality rules,” Fritzsche wrote. “There may also be a push to roll back some or all of what the FCC just did on privacy. It’s unclear whether Chairman Wheeler will be able to act on the open items related to Business Data Services or set-top box reform before he departs and if he does not, some suggest a Republican FCC will reverse course on these two items.”
While Fritzsche said Trump’s presidency also raises questions about some big transactions – like the AT&T-Time Warner hookup and the Level 3-CenturyLink deal – one thing that shouldn’t be too much in the air is spectrum policy.
“Spectrum policy is generally bipartisan whereby both parties agree that more spectrum is needed to support growing network usage,” Fritzsche wrote. “We believe that regulators no matter their party affiliation believe that 5G is a game changing technology and will do what it takes to support that evolution. We expect there will be an even greater focus among a Republican House, Senate and White House to raise more general revenues through spectrum auctions; however, it’s unclear whether the industry’s efforts to pry more high band spectrum away from government users will be more or less difficult under a Republican administration.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations, Cybersecurity