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Government Shutdown Halts Trump’s FCC Deregulation Agenda, Says Tom Wheeler

Former FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, warns that the effect of U.S. government shutdown on the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will last a long time even if the shutdown were to end tomorrow. In a post published today by The Brookings Institution, Wheeler writes: "Lost in the headlines of a border wall shutdown is the work the federal government should be doing to oversee the connective tissue of our economy: the nation's communications networks. While the government was open, the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notable in its efforts to shut down regulation of the companies it is supposed to oversee. One would, therefore, assume that pausing what was already a shutdown of oversight would have no real impact. Closing the agency's doors altogether would seem to be the ultimate definition of success for an agency that has spent the Trump term undoing regulation. Yet, the companies that have been the beneficiaries of the Trump FCC's deregulation are now discovering that a government that does nothing cannot serve their interests."

Shutdown is hurting telecommunications companies: Noted in various examples of negative impacts FCC shutdown has had amongst telecom companies is the complete halt of T-Mobile and Sprint merger talks as well as that of Nexstar and Tribune.

The adverse effect on 5G progress: The push for 5G wireless that the Trump FCC calls a national security-tinged "race" with China is slowed if the Commission cannot approve new 5G-capable phones and infrastructure.

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