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During ‘Infrastructure Week’ at the White House, One Wonders: Where’s the Infrastructure?

in Fiber/Infrastructure/Wireless by

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2017 — Despite giving this week the title of “Infrastructure Week” at the White House, President Donald Trump and his staff haven’t taken any public actions to make digital infrastructure, such as high-speed broadband, a part of their plans for the much-discussed infrastructure bill.

“On infrastructure, the President has said all along he believes it will be a bipartisan exercise and its one that we will be looking to partner with [Democrats] on,” White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said during a Monday press briefing. “Whether it becomes an individual bill or its part of something else, I don’t know yet.”

Neither Short nor the two White House officials who briefed the press on the Trump Administration’s plans earlier on Monday made any mention of high-speed broadband when discussing the bill that is expected to be a centerpiece of President Trump’s legislative agenda.

Instead, White House officials — including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky — made a spectacle out of unveiling plans to privatize the nation’s Air Traffic Control system, which has long been a goal of Republicans.

Conservatives have been opposed to the clout of public employee unions, such as the one that represents air traffic controllers, despite legal prohibitions on labor actions like striking.

White House officials continued to have no comment, when asked by BroadbandBreakfast News, whether high-speed broadband internet would be included in the infrastructure plan despite the lack of any announcement.

Still, there has been some movement from independent agencies within the Trump Administration on broadband despite the lack of action from the White House.

During a public trip through several Midwestern states, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has on multiple occasions stated the need for more broadband investment, particularly in rural areas.

But Pai has on many occasions voiced opposition to the kinds of municipal and community broadband networks that rural communities have sought to deploy.

Incumbent communications companies like Verizon Communications  and others have found it unprofitable to invest in bringing higher-speed connectivity broadband to areas they have traditionally service. These incumbents often support federal and state laws and regulations prohibiting attempts to install municipal networks.

(Caricature of Elaine Chao by Donkey Hotey used by permission.)

Andrew Feinberg rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com as Managing Editor in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. In addition to covering the White House for Russia's Sputnik News - and from which he publicly departed - he has covered tech and telecommunications policy in Congress and at federal agencies for Communications Daily, FastCompany.TV, Mashable and Washington Business Journal.

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