28 January 2018

US Government Considers Nationalizing US Cellular Network And Unifying Upgrade to 5G Next Generation Wireless

This 'leak' suggests that the US government may take a greater interest in building out the US information infrastructure, and modernizing it with more speed and greater standardization.

When I first heard of this the first thing that occurred to me was the Eisenhower plan to modernize and upgrade the US transportation infrastructure with the Interstate Highway System.  It provided for a significant upgrade and expansion to the national transportation infrastructure and a significant boost to the post-war economy.

I would be surprised if the major carriers would be interested in this, unless they were to put their competitive advantages in coverage differences aside to go after the government funding for the expansion to new technology and a wider, more uniform infrastructure.

Forming strategic initiatives around key infrastructure is such a good idea for the nation and the public as a whole that I cannot imagine it being adopted in any kind of reasonable and productive manner by the current government.   Telecommunications is a heavily lobbied industry.

Recall that this is a government of knuckle-dragging kleptocrats that could not even sustain a defense of a no-brainer policy like 'net neutrality.'

I wonder if this cellular infrastructure proposal was a candidate for headline busting big idea projects in Trump's upcoming State of the Union speech.  In that speech he is expected to note our economic progress, and ask for bipartisan support for infrastructure projects and increase military spending.  And perhaps the celluar project did not make the cut, which is why it was leaked now.  Or perhaps it did, and this is a trial balloon to see who applauds and who screams.  In any event, it seems to have been a calculated leak with intent.

 But look at what a cynic I have become.

There are certain shared and basic resources like roads, air traffic control, electric power distribution, and a national wireless system that need to be under some for of strategic government regulation. The amount of regulation and the forms it takes are another matter.

The pendulum has been swinging away from government initiatives and involvement in the US infrastructures for the past thirty years, leaving it to the 'invisible hand' of self-serving individuals and corporations.

And it shows in the quality and reach of many shared, public systems that become dominated by private monopolies, each pursuing their own narrow agendas and short term objectives.

As they used to say in economics class, some of these things are 'natural monopolies' given the complexity, reach and capital requirements involved, and of course the public good, which is heavilyt discounted as a priority in a predatory kleptocracy.

The imperative in this is that the US is falling behind in certain types of national infrastructure compared to other countries that take a more strategic, long term interest in these matters.  And that makes it less competitive in a number of areas.

And it is certainly falling behind most developed nations in the availability and affordability of  public healthcare and higher education.  But that is another matter, but a similar symptom.

Let's see what happens.  We're still reading and thinking about some of the implications of the attachment at the end of the article at Axios which is the leaked memorandum.  My son is taking the technologists view, and I am thinking like the guys who have to deploy, use, and maintain them.

Let the lobbying games begin.

Trump Expected To Tout Economic Progress, Infrastructure Projects in State of the Union
Trump's Infrastructure: Trillion Dollar Initiative or the New Hunger Games for States and Municipalities

Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network
Jonathan Swan, David McCabe, Ina Fried, Kim Hart

Trump national security officials are considering an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China, according to sensitive documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: We’ve got our hands on a PowerPoint deck and a memo — both produced by a senior National Security Council official — which were presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.

The main points: The documents say America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years. There'll be a fierce debate inside the Trump administration — and an outcry from the industry — over the next 6-8 months over how such a network is built and paid for.

Two options laid out by the documents:

The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.

An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network.

Between the lines: A source familiar with the documents' drafting says Option 2 is really no option at all: a single centralized network is what's required to protect America against China and other bad actors.

The source said the internal White House debate will be over whether the U.S. government owns and builds the network or whether the carriers bind together in a consortium to build the network, an idea that would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country's greater good.

Why it matters: Option 1 would lead to federal control of a part of the economy that today is largely controlled by private wireless providers. In the memo, the Trump administration likens it to "the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System" and says it would create a “new paradigm” for the wireless industry by the end of Trump's current term.

But, but, but: The proposal to nationalize a 5G network also only covers one part of the airwaves; there’d be other spaces where private companies could build...

Read the entire article here.