Telecoms policy transition is a turnover, not a new game

23 November 2016 by Steve Blum
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Pick up the ball and move it in the opposite direction.

A two-man Trump transition “landing team” is descending on the Federal Communications Commission. Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison have made their career at the dark junction of industry, academia and government. Both are affiliated with the D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute, an industry-friendly consulting group that serves clients on the right wing of the political ecosystem, and both have strong ties to the telecoms industry, Eisenach as a consultant to Verizon and Jamison as a lobbyist for Sprint.

And both are skeptical about the need for the FCC to even exist, at least in anything like its current form, and in particular oppose current regulations that classify broadband as a common carrier service and sharply limit the ability of ISPs to control what consumers do with the bandwidth they buy, aka the network neutrality rules.

To that extent at least, they seem to be on the same page as republican FCC commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, who voted against the net neutrality package nearly two years ago and have vociferously argued against it ever since. Eisenach and Jamison also seem to be sympatico with congressional republicans who have their own ideas about unraveling that decision.

Trump’s picks for a landing team are the strongest indication yet that he plans to chart a mainstream republican course on telecoms policy. There’s no hint in Jamison’s or Eisenach’s portfolio of populist rhetoric or positions – quite the contrary – and generally rolling back government regulation of private industry is among the handful of top level priorities that Trump has identified. “I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. So important”, he stated in a video released on Monday.

Jamison and Eisenach are also completely conventional in another respect: they are creatures of the Beltway lobbying swamp that Trump campaigned against. A different team may have the ball, but the game has not changed.