The Effect of the US Election on Telecoms
3 November 2016
The US election has been dominating headlines for months whilst the campaign war has waged. Both the Trump and Clinton camps have declared their intentions, made their promises and are now in the last week of fighting for a key to the most powerful house in the world. In true two-party style, the policies of each camp could not be anymore different - one is conservative on internal issues but liberal on external policy, whilst the other is essentially the exact opposite. But where do they stand on data and communications policies, and how will the result of the US election affect telecommunications in America?
America’s global influence cements their leading position in technology debates and schemes, such as the development of smart cities and 5G. In the tech-heavy society of the modern world, the influence of the internet in popular culture, and popular debate, is ubiquitous. The preservation and development of the internet and the communications industry is therefore among the key issues that the new President will need to address, cementing the significance of the US election in the future of the telecommunications industry. According to ITIF, addressing such issues ultimately creates opportunity to improve economy and quality of life as well. And yet, Donald Trump has yet to address the issues or make any pledges in any real way. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, has set out a list of detailed proposals on key telecommunications issues.
Infographic from Motherboard
Clinton’s policies address issues ranging from net neutrality to broadband access across America, to worldwide development of 5G. The effect of net neutrality on the telecom industry is hotly debated, with some suggesting that ISPs will lose business to OTT service providers, however the popular opinion is that the new rules will ultimately have minimal effect, and that they are vital as after all, they are designed to preserve the internet. Clinton is in favour of net neutrality, and has vowed to defend it against attacks by the broadband industry. She is also in favour of a plan to transition stewardship of the internet’s Domain Name System to a LA-based nonprofit group. This plan has been in the works for two decades, and is supported by the majority of tech experts as it is hypothesised to ensure the longevity of the internet.
Clinton has also outlined an aim to increase broadband access, pledging that all households in the US will have access to affordable broadband by 2020. Finally, she has also pledged to invest in 5G and wireless services, and accelerate their rollout to the public, which will ensure the effect of the US election on telecommunications not just in America, but worldwide.
On the other hand, Trump has remained almost entirely mute on internet, communications and data issues. He has not addressed issues of broadband access, preservation of the internet, the future of communications or wireless communication policy. The only areas in which his views are known are net neutrality and the US internet transition plan, both of which he opposes. These policies are designed to preserve the health of the internet, and so the longevity of the internet would potentially struggle under Trump’s leadership. Trump actually tweeted that net neutrality is an attempt at a ‘power grab’, and incorrectly likened it to the abolished Fairness Doctrine.
Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014
The summary of the Trump vs Clinton effect on the telecommunications industry is simple: Clinton has released an extensive plan, whilst Trump has largely not addressed the issues.
If Clinton wins the US election, her pledge to give country-wide access to broadband will extend telco user bases, and open up new areas to sales and profits. Additionally, her pledge to invest in 5G will see the US take a lead in the future of communications, motivating American telcos to involve themselves in the process, and benefit from the outcome. Finally, her support of net neutrality and the US internet transition plan ultimately protects the longevity of the internet; although the effect of this on telcos is uncertain, the preservation of the internet is undoubtedly in their interest.
If Trump wins the US election, his effect on the industry is uncertain. The FCC have stated that their intentions with net neutrality are to 'preserve and protect the open internet', and thus Trump's opposition to net neutrality and the US internet transition plan could potentially damage these attempts. Finally, Trump's decision to not address the future of communications or broadband access in the US in his pledges suggests that these issues are not his priority.
To read the full summary of these policies, see the Broadband and Telecommunications section in this report.