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Communications Network United States Politics

FCC Chairman Slams Trump Team's Proposal To Nationalize 5G (axios.com) 248

The Federal Communications Commission's Republican chairman on Monday opposed a plan under consideration by the Trump White House to build a 5G mobile network, nationalizing what has long been the role of private wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon. From the report: "I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network," he said. The FCC's reaction doesn't bode well for the proposal the Trump administration is considering, first reported by Axios on Sunday night, since it's one of the main government agencies when it comes to wireless issues.
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FCC Chairman Slams Trump Team's Proposal To Nationalize 5G

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  • because it filled their wallets. This takes money off the table. Whoops.

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      Yep.

      That Ajit Pai opposes this proposal is, prima facie, a strong argument in favor of having the government own the network and only rent its use to the cellular carriers.

      Because, with that swine, it's always Opposite Day ...

  • by RedK ( 112790 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:12PM (#56026945)

    At least it's consistent with his usual positions of "Less governement".

    • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:26PM (#56027051)

      Maybe. It is also consistent with his positions of being a tool of the telecoms. Or maybe he's holding out for a higher bid for his "services".

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:39PM (#56027177)

      I am not sure why it is funny. But Trumps only policy is what seems to Trump up Trump. He isn't a conservative or liberal, he is Trump who just wants himself to look good. He will stick with the people who likes him and complements him, and will betray anyone who makes him seem less then he thinks he is.

      This makes him easily manipulative. I have worked with personalities like this in the past, just as long as you weather the temper-tantrums, you can get the person to do whatever you want.

      • I think the "his" in the original post was referring to Pai, not Trump, though now I can see the irony in the latter

      • Lets be fair here. My post shouldn't had been Modded +5 Insightful.
        It was somewhat offtopic.

    • Or perhaps he was instructed to do this.

    • Exactly. Pai has a deep ideological belief in free markets. I'd go so far as to say he has too much faith in free markets. I feel free markets are good when there's enough elasticity in the market for good old-fashioned supply and demand to function correctly. But the telecom industry has a natural tendency to be a monopoly due to the enormous physical plant required to prevent the supply side from reacting to the demand side. In the absence of strong regulatory action, the monopoly will ... what's the euphemism? ... maximize shareholder value.
      • ... in free markets.

        If he was against Title II net neutrality, and also against competition-limiting state and local regulations, that would be globally consistent.

        The FCC has the power to strike down anti-competitive local/state regulations.

        The only reason I can see for them not doing that would be regulatory capture by the telecom industry.

      • by Macdude ( 23507 )

        I feel free markets are good when there's enough elasticity in the market for good old-fashioned supply and demand to function correctly.

        A brilliant explanation of free-enterprise in comix form:
        http://economixcomix.com/Econo... [economixcomix.com]

        • Nice. If one were to look to Adam Smith as a spiritual guide (which isn't too far fetched), many people like to quote favorite bits from their spiritual guides which often corrupts the original intent of the guide in the first place.
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @01:42PM (#56027675)
      Less government, more free market is only helpful when there's competition in the free market. Back in the 3G days and before, there was competition (GSM/TDMA, CDMA, DAMPS). 4G saw all the carriers adopting LTE. That's a pretty good sign the technology has matured and competition has found the best solution. At that point, the best course of action is usually to turn it into a public utility. Build a single set of wires (or towers in this case), but don't run any service over them. Let multiple companies provide that service, paying for use of those wires/towers. That competition keeps prices low, as well as keeps a finger in the free market pie in case someone comes up with some new breakthrough.

      Electricity is a good example. When it was first developed, nobody knew if AC or DC was better for long-distance transmission. Edison (DC) and Westinghouse/Tesla (AC) built competing electrical systems - entire cities were wired up with AC or DC electricity. Since the government didn't know which was better either, the smart thing for it to do was to stay out of it and not try to regulate it.* Both systems competed, and it soon became clear that AC was superior. Pretty soon all electrical systems were AC, and that's when the government stepped in and converted it into a utility. Your local power company built, owns, and maintains the wires. But in most jurisdictions you can purchase your power from any number of electricity providers. Those providers pay the owner of the wires a fixed rate, set by the local or state's public utilities commission.

      * GSM is a good example of how to screw this up. The EU government regulated too quickly when it developed GSM and mandated it as the standard all EU phone companies had to adopt. GSM was based on TDMA - each phone took turns talking to the tower. That worked fine in low-bandwidth applications like voice, but once cellular data became the hot commodity, it was terrible. GSM wasted data bandwidth by allocating it to phones which didn't some or all of it. Fortunately the US didn't adopt GSM and let cell phone companies come up with their own systems. A few tried CDMA - each phone transmits simultaneously, and the tower tells them apart via orthogonal coding (kinda like writing on a sheet of paper, then turning it 90 degrees and writing on it some more - the letters are orthogonal enough that you can distinguish the vertical ones from the horizontal ones). With CDMA, each phone sees the transmissions of the other phones as noise, which raises the noise floor and reduces the signal to noise ratio, automatically dividing the available data bandwidth between all transmitting phones. It completely blew GSM out of the water. Enough so that within a year GSM threw in the towel and was amended to include wideband CDMA for data [wikiwand.com]. That's why CDMA networks got 3G data about a year before GSM networks. That's why GSM phones could talk and use data at the same time - they had a TDMA radio for voice, and a second CDMA radio for data. CDMA phones only had a single radio for both voice and data.

      So 5G is a good candidate for converting the cellular network into the utility model.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Less government, more free market is only helpful when there's competition in the free market. Back in the 3G days and before, there was competition (GSM/TDMA, CDMA, DAMPS). 4G saw all the carriers adopting LTE.

        You're confusing market fragmentation with competition. The two are actually mutually exclusive. Using the same standard means you can buy one phone and change carriers freely at any time, which is a prerequisite to any meaningful competition.

        There was a small amount of competition at the chipset m

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        DC is actually much better for long distance transmission at high voltage but they didn't have the tech at the time to do the voltage conversion but AC was easily converted with transformers so it won out.

    • I think this is just a ploy to pretend that the administration is being balanced about the issue of deregulation, plus what gtall says here about Trump's hand being out.
  • “He” is Ajit Pai (Score:5, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:17PM (#56026987)

    Just thought I’d mention it since the editors didn’t...

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:21PM (#56027005)

    This just comes to show.... the FCC is in the Pockets of the corporate monopolies who are scared of potential competition.

    The FCC's job is to be a neutral technical regulator for spectrum and consumer protection --- having a national 5G network would not adversly affect the FCC's ability to do their job, so why are they even commenting?

    I can think of only one reason.... the commission is attempting to leverage the fallacy that they are experts in matters of commerce and infrastructure investment to push the administration in the direction of the political goals of their past and future employers: The largest cable companies and Telcos.

    • Aside from the fact that the FCC regulates the wireless spectrum that the FCC would be on.
      I don't think Ajit Pai was making an official "FCC" statement here but a personal/professional statement on the issue (given that he IS head of the FCC)
    • by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @02:08PM (#56027873)

      Yep, I was against a national 5G network when it was suggested, but if Ajit says it's a bad idea, I'm all for it. Fuck that guy.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        I'm not at all sure I'm for it anyway. Is it really practical? But the physical layer of the network *is* a natural monopoly, and should therefore be run by *some* part of the government. I'd prefer a utility commission...and I'd prefer that all members of the commission and executives be forbidden from accepting any remuneration from anyone even remotely connected with the industry they are regulating not only while they are serving on the commission, but for the rest of their lives. This might mean th

        • I'm pretty far libertarian, but there are things that should be public goods. Transportation and communication methods are some of those. They need to be legislated to remain freely accessible so that corporations can't intrude upon the natural freedom to communicate and travel freely. "It's not censorship if it's a company doing it" is a poor excuse if a company is the only way to communicate using the current communication technology.

          Also, GPS was done by the government and look at the explosion of innova

  • by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:23PM (#56027013)

    I am sure that the government would never turn over all personal information without a warrant to the ... government.

    Sounds like Lenin's wet dream. A conduct for for all information which the government has total control over. What could possibly go wrong?

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:31PM (#56027105)

      What fantasy world do you live in where cellular carriers aren't regularly and enthusiastically turning over data to the government?

      • You need to re-read the part that says "without a warrant"... Of course carriers hand over data when they receive a warrant for it, I would.

        • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @01:00PM (#56027343)

          Which is unbelievably easy to get plus we have no idea how much permanent ingress is allowed to the government or what data is just sent over regularly.

          I don't think a common wireless utility (simply running the spectrum + backhaul) would be any less subject to the thin barrier of warrants or any less compromised than the major carriers already are.

          The consumer benefit so greatly outweighs the "muh gubmint" risk.

    • We already have a federal postal system which seems perfectly capable of honoring warrants while not opening every package to spy on people. And unlike like the postal system, individual can choose to use encryption to circumvent any content monitoring.

      Besides, it's naive to think AT&T would not turn your secrets over to the government if asked [wikipedia.org]

    • protecting your privacy? At least with the Government I can have public oversight committees & freedom of information requests.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      If fears of Trumpnet 5G is what gets you to finally start moving everything to darknets and looking harder at key exchange for things that can't go to darknets, that can only be a good thing.

      By the time you think you're ready to tunnel through Trumpnet in 2022, you'll finally be ready to deal with the realities of 2002 Internet.

  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:26PM (#56027049) Journal
    I hate Trump and the FCC chairman. How do I know which to oppose on this? ;)
    • I hate Trump and the FCC chairman. How do I know which to oppose on this? ;)

      I hate neither, but you beat me to archly pointing out that heads like yours would explode, lol

  • Go figure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elohssa ( 317266 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:27PM (#56027063)

    A lawyer for Verizon would oppose nationalizing part of Verizon's business.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:29PM (#56027093)

    ... Trump's nationalization plan is way over the top, he (Trump) does have a point in that our telecom infrastructure is a critical utility. And to the extent that it probably should remain in private hands, it needs oversight and regulation. And if the private owners can't see fit to run it as anything more than their own marketing channel to consumers, then the government needs to step in. And this includes building systems in poorly covered areas where private capital doesn't see the ROI to justify the service.

    • And this includes building systems in poorly covered areas where private capital doesn't see the ROI to justify the service.

      If I make a conscious choice to live out in the sticks, that choice has pluses and minuses attached to it just like any other lifestyle choice.

      • I may have to use a well and a septic system rather than public water/sewer.
      • I may have to use satellite for TV/internet rather than cable/DSL/fiber.
      • I may have to rely on a landline or a satellite phone rather than a cell phone.

      I have no right to demand that you subsidize my choice by building out cell infrastructure to reach my preferred location than I do the other

      • I'll add 2 more.

        I may need to put in propane if I want "natural gas" for cooking.

        I may need a backup gen as power is less reliable.

        • Yeah, I considered going down the electricity route -- on top of reliability, power companies generally will only run a line/meter so far into a property and beyond that you're on your own for installation/maintenance. But apart from that, I think electrical coverage is a lot more comprehensive these days than water/sewer/cable so I feared that would end up turning into a sideshow. Given the general tone of the rest of the responses so far, it probably didn't matter one way or the other....

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        What you do have a right to do is initiate a conversation about whether it would be a net benefit for the country to have everyone connected through cell service or whatever.
        This is what happened when the country decided to connect most everyone to the electrical grid and the telephone network, not to mention the postal network way back.

        • What you do have a right to do is initiate a conversation about whether it would be a net benefit for the country to have everyone connected through cell service or whatever.

          Of course. But that's not what OP was doing, as you know.

    • And this includes building systems in poorly covered areas where private capital doesn't see the ROI to justify the service.

      Why a half-assed solution? Either you are okay with government intervention and you nationalize everything, or you let the "invisible hand of the free market" coming up with a solution.

      Having the government taking care only of poorly covered areas ends up costing more to the tax-payer, since it cannot use profits from high-ROI areas to subsidize other places. And it also means that users in dense areas pay twice: once for themselves through their contract with telecom companies, and once for people in less-

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @12:34PM (#56027127)
    ... he is owned by Verizon and other ISPs.
  • ... a whole new internet that is air-gapped from the current one that's connected to the whole fucking planet.

  • I just read axios' mission statement, about not injecting hyperbole. But if this is a "SLAM" then it is the weakest one I have ever seen in my life. Just imagine Pai in a rap battle spitting fire like this:

    "I deeply disagree with your ability to construct rhymes and I question the moral fortitude of your mother."

  • It was one of several alternative approaches under consideration. There has been no proposal to date.
  • This is a ruse to keep discussions off net neutrality. Pretty obvious.
  • Ajit Pai probably never saw this coming! That's the problem with having a madman for an ally, you can never be sure when he'll suddenly decide to do some batshit crazy thing that goes against your interests.

    Not that a nationalized 5G network is an inherently crazy idea, but it's certainly batshit by Republican standards.

  • Trump is making plans to fire Ajit Pai. Everyone say goodbye to Pai.
  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Monday January 29, 2018 @02:06PM (#56027849) Journal

    Some people like to call Trump a fascist, and this, potentially nationalizing what now belongs to private industry to serve the body state, is a feature of Mussolini's corporatism (not the usual government by and for the corporations, as it is commonly used, but private industry serving the corporate (body) state).

    Now, I know they're talking about Federal ownership like the way the roads are maintained, but do you think a compromise deal between privatization and government ownership might include the beginnings of corporatism? It just might.

    Oh... and Ajit Pai is a tool. This actually isn't a bad idea, if the government wants to roll out 5G securely and quickly, but it is a bad idea if private industry winds up being mixed up in co-ownership with the government. That's not a good thing at all.

  • Fuck that turd in his ear.
  • Wireless #G networks are used extensively to access Internet and this would be a way for the Government to easily shut that down and/or restrict access to it. Several times Trump has called for an Internet "kill switch" or other measures. From Snopes [snopes.com] (and other places):

    On 7 December 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters at the U.S.S. Yorktown in South Carolina. During that appearance, Trump invoked a vague approach to campaign issues as he proposed restricting access for some individuals to the internet:

    "We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way Somebody will say, ‘Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people." -- Trump

    Trump calls for internet to be cut off for terrorists [cnet.com]
    The Law That Could Allow Trump To Shut Down The US Internet [forbes.com]

    etc...

  • Don't worry folks, with the government running the 5G network, your precious "Net Neutrality" will be protected. You don't want those horrible profit-loving companies running the 5G network and doing "non-net neutral" things, right? Only the government can protect us from capitalist evil!

    You'll love TrumpNet, it will be so Net Neutral, it will be Neutraller than Neutral!

  • Follow Australia's lead.
    Allow him to put through his plan, then wait until he's out of office, change the implementation so that it's twice as expensive for half the network, and make it look like Trump's plan was rubbish from the start.

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