Wait, why the hell is the ‘race to 5G’ even a race?

I have a silly question that nobody seems able to answer directly: Why is 5G a race?

Everyone: the wireless industry, the Democrats, the Republicans, the mainstream media, whatever, frames the building of the next generation of 5G networks as a "race" in which the United States needs to demonstrate "leadership" "

Here it is The Washington Post declaring that the United States has the advantage in the race towards 5G. Here is CNN asking "Who is winning the race for 5G?" AT & T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson says China is not outperforming the US UU A "5 still", as a kind of ominous warning. T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere tells the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House of Representatives that the merger with Sprint will allow his company to "win the race at 5G." Here is a complete microsite from the CTIA industry lobby group entitled Race to 5G. "

Never forget that AT & T is so desperate to lead this" race "that it launched fake 5Ge logos on their phones

But what is at stake in this supposed career is not entirely clear: What happens if we win, in addition to the telecommunications executives becoming a little richer? More importantly, what are the drawbacks of come in second, or even third? Where is the list of negative results specific to China that builds a 5G network a month, a year or even five years before the United States? I've never seen it, and I keep asking about it.

For example, here is FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks on The Vergecast this week, when I asked why 5G is a career.

"I think it's important for us to continue leading the race … obviously we take 4G and I think we can establish" Some of the standards that will eventually be implemented worldwide, that's why there's a bit of a race".

Starks went on to say that China wants to be a world leader in supplying 5G equipment and that's why Huawei has been so aggressively building and pricing its equipment. But Huawei depends on the American chip technology to make its products, and the US government. UU He just put Huawei on a blacklist anyway. So … the race is so we can set some wireless standards? I suspect that Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Verizon and AT & T can stand on their own when it comes to that process.

The other main argument to win the "race" at 5G is that having the best and fastest networks in the world will create new economic opportunities for companies of all kinds: we will enable self-driving cars and telemedicine and all the other things you will hear during the endless 5G slide presentations at business conferences. In a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation earlier this year, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi declared with confidence that "failing to win the race at 5G would not only materially delay the benefits of 5G for the American people, but that will reduce forever the economic and social benefits that come from leading the world in technology. "

Maybe. It is true that the best networks generate better opportunities and that broadband high-speed generalized is something that everyone wants, but I sincerely doubt that all these companies will resume and move to China or Europe if the United States build 5G networks a little slower After all, we already have some of the slowest and most expensive networks in the world, and Apple and Facebook have not yet followed to South Korea.

The more I hear about the race, the more I do not buy it. I believe that the "race" framework is there to make some big decisions seem urgent and important, so that it seems that some serious concessions are worthwhile to "win". And those concessions are really serious: 5G The networks will require a serious rethinking of how we use the wireless spectrum. There are incredible privacy implications in terms of putting millions of IoT devices in a "smart city" in 5G. The investment dollars will naturally flow towards the construction of 5G networks in cities instead of expanding our networks to rural areas, exacerbating the digital divide.

And once the "race" to build 5G in the big cities is "won", the pressure for Expanding access to other places in the country will fade away, making the division even worse. It is worth considering all these things carefully before giving in a hurry.

Oh, and it seems that part of the required 5G spectrum could interfere with important weather sensors, a concern raised by NASA, the Navy and NOAA in Mexico. Hearings before Congress last week. How did the wireless industry respond to these concerns? By writing a post on the blog that accused meteorologists of three government agencies of "risking our 5G leadership". The implication, of course, is that worrying about detecting major weather events could make lose the race .

This breed is an imaginary shit. We are being imposed by large telecommunications companies that know that Internet access is fundamentally a commodity and they want something new to sell at high prices instead of competing to improve service and lower prices on the networks they have. After all, the United States "won" the "race" for LTE, but it's worth repeating: our LTE networks are among the slowest in the world and our prices among the highest. What won that race for the millions of people across the country who still can not get a reliable LTE signal?

All I'm asking is that the next time you hear a wireless industry person talk about the "race" at 5G, stop and ask them why is a race. Ask who the competitors are and what happens if we take second place. Look if you buy the answer. I suspect you will not hear anything convincing.

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