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Proposal for a federal 5G network in the US

Telecoms and law professor Rob Frieden has written about a US National Security Council initiative that identifies the security and public safety benefits in having a government owned 5G wireless network leased by commercial ventures. “While quickly rejected as unnecessarily intrusive of market forces, the document does raise questions about whether and how shared infrastructure investment might make sense. Even ardent libertarians might not reject the pooling of resources where a faster, more efficient and cheaper output occurs. For example, AT&T won a competitive tender to build a nationwide, first responder network available for shared access by state and local public safety departments with AT&T able to exploit unused spectrum for commercial services. Few would consider this socialism, a usurpation of the commercial marketplace and government mission creep.” Nevertheless, Frieden says he has concerns about government ownership, “particularly when the motivation appears more about foreclosing foreign snooping and facilitating domestic surveillance options. Additionally, the first responder network does not provide an air tight case for 5G network sharing, because most public safety networks fit within the ambit of what governments provide while the commercial marketplace has largely functioned without much government involvement for mobile telecoms and internet access… The NSC initiative does suggest that infrastructure sharing can make sense in some cases. Another way to think about sharing is to separate one element in a bundle of service functions leaving the remainder still within the ambit of the commercial marketplace. Perhaps surprisingly, telecoms ventures throughout the world have executed this model. It’s often called ‘carriers’ carrier’ and it has provided a platform for both cost savings and removal of the potential for anticompetitive behaviour. For example, the UK government ordered BT to divide itself into a basic local exchange carrier and a venture able to pursue any and all other markets… The recent 5G proposal triggered an immediate and indignant response ensuring no consideration of even promising carriers’ carrier options.” See more and also WSJ article  / The Verge 

  • Thursday, 22 February 2018

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