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President Trump's Budget Backs NTIA

While there are major cuts in President Donald Trump's "America first" budget, including a 16% cut in funds for the Department of Commerce, the document says the White House will continue to support the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), at least as far as "representing the United States interest at multi-stakeholder forums on internet governance and digital commerce."

The budget did not break out cuts for the FCC, but they are part of a category that averages close to a 10% hit.

NTIA is the President's principal telecom policy advisor, overseeing government use of spectrum much as the FCC does private users and providing input on issues including online privacy, security and network neutrality.

The budget, released March 16, also says it "supports the commercial sector’s development of next generation wireless services by funding NTIA’s mission of evaluating and ensuring the efficient use of spectrum by Government users."

NTIA has been looking into encouraging government spectrum user to give up spectrum to, or share it with, private sector users as a way to boost wireless broadband.

The Commerce cuts are coming from, among other things, eliminating the Minority Business Development Agency, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Economic Development Administration.

CTIA, which represents wireless companies, was OK with what it saw as a targetted approach.

“CTIA and our members support the focused approach that the President’s budget takes toward funding NTIA. NTIA plays a vital role in managing mission-critical spectrum for federal agencies, while opening up new bands that allow the wireless industry to invest and innovate, create new jobs and maintain America’s position as a global wireless leader.”

The budget, which is more of an outline than the itemized budget released by prior administrations, does not provide a breakout of cuts for the FCC, but an "other agency" category has a total budget of $26.5 billion in 2018, down from $29.4 billion in 2017, or a 9.8% cut.

OMB director Mick Mulvaney had signaled agency heads would have more flexibility—which also means more responsibility—to determine where the cuts will come.