Trump Dials Up Wireless Voice

New FCC transition team member has taken aim at big providers

Why This Matters

WHY THIS MATTERS
The Trump transition team’s new entrepreneur/disruptor will help remake the FCC.

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President-elect Donald Trump has added some populist pop to his FCC “landing” transition team as he prepares to remake the commission come Inauguration Day (Jan. 20).

Trump will get to pick a new chairman, and if he selects one of the FCC’s two current Republicans for the top spot, a new GOP and Democratic commissioner as well.

The newest, fourth member of the FCC transition team is David Morken, cofounder and CEO of Bandwidth.com and chairman of its Republic Wireless unit. Last month, Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at American Enterprise Institute, joined fellow conservative think tank alums Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison on the team providing Trump input on the new FCC leadership.

Bandwidth.com built its wireless business on the theory that WiFi could be the primary network and cellular (Sprint) the backup, which would allow Republic to charge less—only $19 per month—with no contract.

Morken combines a couple of life experiences that appear to hold a lot of weight with the incoming president and could apply to the tenor of the new FCC. 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.

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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,” Morken 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 FCC chairman, though one of the sitting Republican commissioners—Ajit Pai or Michael O’Rielly—will almost certainly preside as at least interim chair following the inauguration.

The FCC last week moved its next public meeting to Jan. 31 to give Republicans more time to plan things out.