Wilbur Ross, founder of private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co., has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump for the position of secretary of commerce. According to 40 USC Section 1512, the Department of Commerce is to “foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce.” Mr Ross will run a department comprised of 12 bureaus and 47,000 employees located in all 50 states and five territories. The Department’s duties include researching telecommunications sciences, including determining how to improve the use of electromagnetic spectrum.
The lead office on telecommunications within the Department is the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. During the Obama administration’s tenure, NTIA’s expressed policy focus has been on “expanding broadband internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring the internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth.”
Mr Ross has invested in telecommunications companies during his stint with Rothschild, Inc., and now with W.L. Ross & Co. W.L. Ross & Co. is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Invesco.
Anything regarding how Mr Ross would address unleashing additional spectrum from government agencies to private firms for commercial use is pure speculation at this point. There is no word yet on who would run NTIA because the transition is still in its early stages. As someone who promotes vigorous markets, I would not be surprised to see a Ross led Commerce Department make aggressive attempts to get spectrum laying fallow with government agencies into the hands of wireless carriers.