Trump Dials Up Wireless FCC Voice

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has added some populist pop to his Federal Communications Commission “landing” team as he prepares to remake the agency come Inauguration Day (Jan. 20).

Trump will get to pick a new chairman, and, if he chooses one of the agency’s two current Republicans for that post, one new GOP and one Democratic commissioner as well.

The newest, fourth member of the FCC transition team is David Morken, the co-founder and CEO of Republic Wireless parent company Last month, Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, joined fellow conservative think tank alumni Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison on the team providing input on new FCC leadership. built its wireless business on the theory that WiFi could serve as the primary network and a cellular network, specifically Sprint’s, as backup, which would allow it to charge less — $19 per month with no contract.

Morken combines several life experiences that appear to hold a lot of weight with the incoming president and could apply to the tenor of the new commission. He is a former member of the U.S. military (a Marine) and an entrepreneur/disruptor who built an “overnight success” through a decade of hard work growing a business.

Morken clearly has a populist streak, or at least a consumer-empowering marketing approach to challenging the big carriers.

“The cellular emperor has no clothes — smart consumers have been clamoring for someone to unlock the value of our home and office networks for years,” he said when launching the hybrid WiFi/cellular approach in 2011.

The Trump transition team has not responded to requests for information on when the President-elect will chose a new chairman, though one of the sitting Republican commissioners — either Ajit Pai or Michael O’Rielly — will almost certainly preside at least as interim chair following the inauguration.

The FCC last week moved the public meeting to Jan. 31 to give Republicans more time to plan for it.

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.