January 30, 2018
Following rumours the US Government was going to nationalise a 5G network, White House officials and the FCC have hit back rubbishing the claims.
Several White House officials have confirmed to various news outlets the proposal was nothing more than blue-sky thinking from a staff member at the National Security Council, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Alongside this denial from the Trump administration, the FCC has also been relatively vocal in opposition.
“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network,” said Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
“The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades – including American leadership in 4G – is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.”
It should hardly be surprising that Pai, irrelevant as to whether he is a Trump puppet or not, is opposed to such a proposal. Considering he has almost single handed dismantled net neutrality rules, removing some regulatory barriers for carriers, it would be incredibly contradictory for the US Government to take such a dominant position in deploying and managing 5G infrastructure. Even so, this is also an issue which has seemingly been able to unite Republican and Democrat Commissioners.
“The United States’ leadership in the deployment of 5G is critical and must be done right,” said Democrat Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. “Localities have a central role to play; the technical expertise possessed by industry should be utilized; and cybersecurity must be a core consideration. A network built by the federal government, I fear, does not leverage the best approach needed for our nation to win the 5G race.”
While the White House was keen to distance itself from any real policy, we don’t quite believe it all. Considering the detail that went into the proposal, it would have at least have had to been greenlighted by someone for a bit of exploratory research. An off-cuff idea was probably raised, a minion told to do some research and then the memo intentionally leaked to get an idea on how it would be received.
The culture of leaking in politics is relatively common, and should you believe the sceptics, it is done intentionally to measure the reception of some more radical ideas. An intentionally leaked documents offers arm’s length should it be a bad idea, or the chance to claim responsibility should the reaction be positive. As you can see below, it certainly wasn’t.
“There is nothing that would slam the brakes more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment more quickly than the federal government stepping-in to build those networks,” said Jonathan Spalter, CEO of broadband association USTelecom.
Industry and the media didn’t like this idea, so everyone is scrambling to get as far away as possible from the toxic memo. There will still be some voices of support for such an idea, as it is believed a federally controlled asset would offer greater security against the Chinese (who clearly only think about spying on the US), but these individuals will be restricted to the shadows of the White House. Of course, there will be some government prying and intervention, though it will be months before we figure out how much.
Whether it was an actual idea from the geniuses behind the US/Mexico wall is irrelevant. The positives which can be taken away from this is that the government is going to be kept away from building a critical piece of infrastructure. Leave the complicated jobs of building the network to those who know what they are doing and let the bureaucrats sit in their corner playing with red ribbons and brown paper envelopes.
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