SOTU Is Light on Broadband Infrastructure

In communications circles, the State of the Union address was as notable for what was not in it as for what was.

Notable for its absence was any specific mention of broadband infrastructure or the race to 5G, which the President has said is one the U.S. should win, and the rural broadband buildout the President staked out as a priority last January.

There was a passing reference to the need for repairing crumbling infrastructure, but that was clearly about roads and bridges rather than broadband, which is about building new plant, nor repairing it, and a mention of investing in a cutting-edge future.

"Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure," the President said. "I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity."

USTelecom did take that opportunity to get specific about what infrastructure was not an option, tweeting:


But Connect Americans Now, which advocates for getting affordable broadband to rural areas by 2022, including using broadcast TV spectrum to do so, saw it as a missed opportunity.

“Bridging the rural broadband gap represents a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation," it said following the speech. "We are disappointed President Trump did not raise this critical issue that impacts millions of rural Americans every day in this evening’s State of the Union Address. Bringing broadband access to rural America remains an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together toward a common goal. An initial non-controversial step in this mission would be removing the regulatory barriers limiting investments in TV white spaces technology, and we hope the Federal Communications Commission will work quickly to deliver results to the American people.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.