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The 2016 presidential election is likely to have a major impact on how the US government tries to expand broadband deployment and how it regulates Internet service providers.
But while we have a pretty good idea of how a President Hillary Clinton would approach the broadband industry, there’s very little to go on when predicting broadband policy under a President Donald Trump.
Clinton’s technology plan includes several initiatives designed to “deliver high-speed broadband to all Americans,” and it promises to defend network neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from discriminating against online services.
There are questions about how Clinton would implement the plan and whether it’s aggressive enough to achieve 100 percent broadband deployment, and her campaign has declined to provide more specifics.
But the mere fact that Clinton has outlined some clear broadband goals sets the Democratic nominee apart from the other candidates.
Republican nominee Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have any plan for increasing access to broadband, and there are indications that he would not support new consumer protection regulations. He weighed in on net neutrality, but only in a November 2014 tweet:
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 Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a public policy think tank, recently analyzed Clinton’s and Trump’s positions on technology.
There were six broadband and telecommunications policy categories, and for five of them Trump was listed as having “no position” or having made no comment.
Trump had no position on wireless spectrum and 5G; a Communications Act update; broadband and telecom subsidies; broadband adoption and digital literacy; and broadband competition and public-private partnerships.
Net neutrality was the one category where Trump had a position, but only because of the two-year-old tweet.
Besides “that one tweet from 2014 on net neutrality, it’s pretty much radio silence from the Trump camp,” ITIF telecommunications policy analyst Doug Brake told Ars.
Trump has finally just hired an aide to help him develop a telecom plan, Politico reported Friday.
The aide, Jeffrey Eisenach of the American Enterprise Institute, is described by Politico as “a crusader against regulation” and is a staunch opponent of net neutrality rules.
Eisenach’s appointment suggests Trump might pursue a deregulatory telecommunications agenda, but the candidate still isn’t talking publicly about specific policies.