As Election Day will get underway, what do the subsequent 4 years maintain for telecom coverage? How are these points more likely to be dealt with in another way primarily based on whether or not Democrats or Republicans maintain Congress and the White Home?

Throughout a current media roundtable, Hogan Lovells provided up insights from 4 of its consultants on what to anticipate in telecom coverage points.

Whatever the final result of immediately’s election, there may be an “increasing universe and scope” of telecom-related points, in accordance with Michele Farquhar, accomplice at Hogan Lovells’ world regulatory group. Conventional communications points and corporations at the moment are more and more tied up with commerce and nationwide safety points, anti-trust and mental property points, privateness and cyber safety. As well as, she stated, “The scope of the FCC’s authorized authority continues to be difficult and  be examined” reminiscent of within the points surrounding Part 230 and web neutrality. The sheer variety of converging, complicated points may result in an overhaul of telecom regulation, Farquhar added. “There have been talks for years about the potential of, perhaps we’d like a brand new Telecom Act or one thing that provides the FCC the authority it’d want for this new age, the place w’re seeing much more convergence and lots of new points confronting us. I wouldn’t be shocked, regardless of who wins and definitely if there’s extra of consensus of events on the Hill with the administration, we’d see some motion in that course that is perhaps useful as we go ahead.”

“Communications is now just about central to virtually each [consumer]product and repair in a roundabout way,” stated Ari Fitzgerald, accomplice with Hogan Lovells’ world communications regulatory apply, who focuses on spectrum points. “FCC points, in the event that they don’t instantly have an effect on the supply of these providers and merchandise, they definitely oblique have an effect on the way in which they’re rolled out, the way in which they’re regulated, the way in which they’re provided.”

Trey Hanbury, Hogan Lovells accomplice who additionally specializes within the telecom and tech house, in contrast the state of the present spectrum “frontier” to that of the Nineties, when the U.S.’ ran out of bodily frontier — which had formed the nation’s growth momentum and character — resulting in each the preservation of untamed locations and pure assets in addition to bitter “vary wars” between ranchers and farmers over how land could be used. Whereas the U.S. may not fairly be at some extent the place all of its spectrum assets have been assigned, Hanbury stated, a large quantity of spectrum (licensed and unlicensed) has been assigned since 2014. He wonders if there is perhaps a replay of points that echoed ultimately of the frontier period: Potential fights over setting apart some spectrum, probably for federal use; extra bitter fights about precisely how the obtainable spectrum is used and to whom it’s obtainable; and potential a “increase and bust” interval. “I feel we’re going to see lots of issues that fail, and different issues that take off dramatically,” he stated.

Whereas spectrum points have a historical past of being extra bipartisan, Farquhar stated, that dearth of spectrum assets may result in the associated coverage fights changing into extra heated. “I feel extra partisan parts could come into play,” she stated, citing the C Band public sale as one current instance of a spectrum problem that Democrats have made clear they might have dealt with in another way. Nonetheless, some points — reminiscent of expanded unlicensed entry — have nonetheless garnered bipartisan help.

Typically, Farquhar and Fitzgerald anticipated to see a extra holistic or unified strategy to spectrum coverage throughout the federal authorities if Democrats take the White Home. Fitzgerald stated that the Democratic FCC commissioners have indicated in the middle of growth for CBRS their liking for smaller geographic license sizes that entice new members to auctions; he stated {that a} Democratic FCC is extra more likely to lean on spectrum coverage, together with mechanisms reminiscent of bidding credit, to facilitate competitors, and put extra religion in new spectrum-sharing applied sciences to facilitate new market entrants.

Hanbury stated that Democrats and Republicans are more likely to strategy the “spectrum screen” idea of what’s thought of affordable spectrum holdings, fairly in another way. Democrats, he stated, are more likely to proceed to piece the present system collectively “with duct tape and wire and proceed to soldier on” with it as a tough measure, whereas Republicans could make a wholesale transfer towards utilizing anti-trust principals as a information as to if any single participant holds “an excessive amount of” spectrum.

He additionally stated {that a} Democratic versus a Republican administration are more likely to deal with the difficulty of a “nationwide 5G community” in another way. Whereas that idea means various things to completely different individuals, Hanbury stated, the present proposal of a “Rivada mannequin” the place the Division of Protection basically offers its spectrum to a non-public entity to handle is “a lot much less more likely to happen below a Democratic administration than a Republican one.”

Each events need to see extra 5G and superior networks constructed, together with in rural and tribal areas, and are backing that up with funding or are proposing to, Fitzgerald famous. Municipal broadband efforts would doubtless see a friendlier federal local weather below a Biden presidency, as would a give attention to boosting broadband adoption in addition to build-out. Whereas the FCC is probably not the very best company to give attention to broadband adoption, Fitzgerald stated, a second Trump time period could be unlikely to give attention to obstacles to adoption a lot in any respect. Democrats could pare again the federal preemption guidelines that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has put in place, that restrict native governments’ capacity to limit community infrastructure deployments. Democrats, he stated, would possibly use extra of a “carrot” strategy the place they spotlight and provides a platform to native leaders which have labored cooperatively and properly with cellular carriers to embrace community infrastructure deployment.

Nonetheless, “Each Republicans and Democrats need to make it possible for the advantages of superior applied sciences stream to everybody within the nation,” Fitzgerald stated.