Trump broadband policy boots up slowly

21 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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The first day of Donald Trump’s presidency wasn’t the blockbuster Day One he promised during the campaign. D-Day is Monday in his reckoning. That’s when he says he’ll start pounding the beach with the heavy guns of executive orders, although the door is open for weekend maneuvers and he took a few ranging shots immediately after taking the oath of office.

Following a custom established by Ronald Reagan, Trump sat down in the President’s Room in the U.S. capitol and took his first actions as president. He signed a stack of mostly cabinet level nominations, along with one proclamation that declares a “national day of patriotism”. Ajit Pai, or whomever Trump plans to anoint as chair of the Federal Communications Commission – permanent or interim – didn’t make the cut. Presumably, that decision will wait until Monday.

Other actions included an executive order regarding ObamaCare and memos that were sent to executive departments ordering regulatory and hiring freezes. Few details were available, but under normal circumstances such orders would not be sent to the FCC, since it’s nominally an independent agency. For now though, I make no assumptions.

If nothing else, Trump offered a clue about where telecommunications ranks on his infrastructure priority list, or rather, where it doesn’t. In his inaugural speech, which he apparently wrote himself, Trump said “we will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation”.

No mention of fiber or conduit or Pony Express stations.

A complete makeover of the white house website appeared within seconds of Trump’s swearing in. The new site briefly appeared as a redirect, and then quickly settled down into its proper location. Initial content was sparse, and looked familiar to anyone who has browsed the transition team’s website. The official presidential Twitter account – @POTUS – was also handed over.

The new administration posted policy briefings on half a dozen issues, none of which mention an infrastructure spending plan, let alone broadband. But the online world is clearly on the Trump administration’s military radar, with one position paper calling out cyberwarfare as “an emerging battlefield” and making the development of “defensive and offensive cyber capabilities” a priority.