Aspen Institute Report Sets the Communications Policy Agenda for the Next Administration

January 19, 2017

Expanding broadband access to rural communities, supporting innovation and infrastructure, and addressing cybersecurity and privacy among key recommendations

Contact: Dominique Harrison
Communications and Society Program
The Aspen Institute
202.736.5818 |

Washington, D.C., January 19, 2017 – The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program (C&S) issued a new report today,

Setting the Communications Policy Agenda for the Next Administration. Each year, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program convenes an annual conference that focuses on topics related to communications policy. Participants, including regulators and other policymakers along with scholars and representatives of telecom companies and public interest groups, meet to address a specific issue and develop recommendations for constructive action around that issue.

At the 31st Annual Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy, which took place several months before the 2016 presidential election, participants heard a keynote talk from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, compared the current communications landscape to what the digital and broadband environment might look like in 2020, and then considered contrasting approaches (Democratic and Republican) to how governments should maximize the public interest in addressing the pressing communications issues of the day. Participants then developed a list of strategies and action steps for the new Administration.

Setting the Communications Policy Agenda for the Next Administration is the resulting report, synthesizing the ideas and recommendations that emerged during the conference. It explores areas where the new Administration should focus its efforts concerning communications policy. Recommendations include:

  1. Promoting Inclusion and Expanding Opportunities.       Participants recommended expanding access, addressing the problem of affordability and spurring adoption and use. This includes addressing the problem of inadequate investment in rural broadband. Participants also called for improved marketing efforts for programs provided by major telecom providers that offer discount broadband access for low-income consumers.
  2. Supporting Innovation and Infrastructure. Recommendations included encouraging public/private collaborations, providing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure, continued efforts to provide additional spectrum, and the need for the US government to protect innovation from international threats.
  3. Building a Trust Environment. The final set of recommendations focused on addressing threats to cybersecurity and privacy. Participants also called for a unitary framework for privacy protection that is both comprehensive and comprehensible.

In addition to Chairman Wheeler, the conference included the participation of senior-level executives and scholars, such as FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn; David Quinalty, Republican Policy Director for Communications and Telecom, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, United States Senate; David Redl,

Chief Counsel, Communications and Technology, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, United States House of Representatives; R. David Edelman, Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy; and other experts in the fields of telecommunications law and policy.

Participants from businesses who attended include: AT&T, Charter, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Dodge and Cox, Emmis, Google, Intel Corporation, Ligado Networks, Microsoft, Netflix, New Street Research, Nielsen, T-Mobile USA, Vanu, Inc., Verizon, and The Walt Disney Company, all of which are sponsors of the Communications and Society Program.

The report is available online at or by contacting the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program at (202) 736-5818 or at Earlier reports in the Aspen Institute Conference on Communications Policy series are also available at

The Aspen Institute, The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. The Institute is based in Washington, DC and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

The Communications and Society Program is an active venue for framing policies and developing recommendations in the information and communications fields. We provide a multi-disciplinary space where veteran and emerging decision-makers can develop new approaches and suggestions for communications policy. The Program enables global leaders and experts to explore new concepts, exchange insights, develop meaningful networks, and find personal growth, all for the betterment of society. 

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