The Vast 5G Conspiracy and Other Oddities


In this edition of the High Tech Forum podcast, Richard and Shane discuss the report from Axios (or was it InfoWars?) about a White House intern’s plan for government takeover of the 5G mobile network. The story is as thinly sourced as it could possibly be – a single unnamed source and an amateur hour slide deck that lacks credibility, but it’s got some legs.

FedNet: Is it Magic?

Net neutrality inventor Tim Wu editorialized on the virtues of a monopoly network in Thursday’s New York Times, a source that never publishes fake news. But I jest. The serious question is whether a federalized 5G network could possibly be more secure than the mobile networks we have today.

Streamlining Broadband Deployment

We discussed the work of the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee on the codes and regulations governing small cells. Some of the cities see the 5G buildout as a short-term revenue opportunity, while others want to help it alone for all the good reasons: stimulating the local economy, improving quality of life, and improving public safety.

There’s been some drama with the mayor of San Jose, California resigning from the working group that Richard is working on, model municipal codes. Ironically, government actors and their consultants have had more than their fair share of air time in working group discussions but some aren’t happy with the pro-deployment direction of the group as a whole.

Triple Play Isn’t Dead Yet

Despite millennials and cord cutting, double-, triple-, and quad-play bundles are still the way most people buy broadband. UBS’s cable analyst, John C. Hodulik, estimates that ~95M of America’s 125M households still have TV subscriptions.

From the consumer POV, this is a good time to buy bundles as carriers are eager to retain subscribers. I suspect that the cable TV/broadband bundle will give way to streaming TV/5G data/mobile voice bundles in a few years.

This change in consumer configurations leads to complex company formations; cable companies are into mobile voice, and mobile companies are into content and fixed wireless plans outside their footprints.

Is Paid Prioritization the Most Evil Thing Ever?

A ban on “paid prioritization” is a cornerstone of the US variety of net neutrality, but it has a different history in Europe. The European arm of the IEEE, the European Public Policy Initiative (now “Committee”) endorsed “premium services” with appropriate safeguards for users of standard broadband.

The paid prioritization fear – and it really is more emotional than factual – attributes powers to ISPs that they don’t have. Slow websites enter ISP networks slowly, and there’s nothing ISPs can do about that.

Chairman Blackburn’s House Communications and Technology subcommittee is likely to hold a hearing on prioritization soon. So here’s hoping for a thoughtful dialog.

What’s Up with Congress and the Internet?

Blackburn’s subcommittee held a hearing this week on the digital divide that had 25 bills or resolutions behind it. And that’s just one piece of Internet policy.

Congress is still trying to figure out what to do about fake news, cyber security, privacy, net neutrality, the roles of the FCC, FTC, DoJ, and NTIA regarding the Internet.

It’s going to be a fun year for Internet wonks.