It has been touted by United States President Donald Trump that the 5G wireless system should be followed out and funded by the Government rather than leave it to the wireless Operators to manage. Could this actually be a better course?
If you look our the past rolls outs that were funded by Private business and delve a little you suddenly see that these were actually funded by the Government but after the roll out was completed the consumer, the taxpayer, never saw any benefit.
The original telephone system was rolled out by the private companies but the bulk of the cost was actually born by the tax payer and not by the company, which became a monopoly which was then broken up when the United States Government realized how bad this monopoly was and how anti consumer friendly it really was when there was no competition.
Then came the roll out of cable TV, this again was funded by the taxpayer with heavy subsidies go the cable companies who then proceeded to roll out services and again we suffered from anti-competitive monopolies in regions because these companies didn’t desire to have to compete for customers. Even when broadband was introduced the cable companies and telcos chose not to compete and their pricing merely matched their rivals, in many areas where both existed there was now a duopoly of two companies and if areas were poorly served by just one, for example small towns or villages they were left to rot with neither willing to invest in decent infrastructure that would support service.
Then along case mobile, this time the frequencies were auctioned to the carriers, the trouble is they chose to create a system where interoperability between them was limited devices were commonly locked to the service and in turn the consumer as locked to that service and worse still there was actually whole swathes of the country that barely had phone service, in fact still does not have wireless phone access for anything other than basic phone calls and sometimes nothing at all.
Broadband internet came along, initially 2G through the same system that carried voice followed by more purchased through auction frequencies to give bandwidth for 3G then LTE, but the competition really was not and still is not there. It took a desperate cony T-Mobile and their CEO to take drastic measures which created competition. Still phones are locked to service and roaming rarely happens because many phones are physically locked and rely on carefully chosen network agreements to roam onto those networks in certain areas. For example, I had service with Verizon for many years and found that even in the center of my City there was not just dead spots within the data system but complete dead space where they had no service at all and rural areas that were dead to all voice and data connections, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
As we enter the era of 5G is it. It time that the Government rethinks how the network for 5G shudder be rolled out? Should we leave it to these companies that not only don’t want to work together but also are anticompetitive and who would invest in only those areas where they sold see big returns? Do we want a situation where a “connected” device stops working when you move from one home to another simply because the carrier that it is designed to work with decided it was too costly roll out service to?
I think that Donald Trump really has the right idea, the Government should invest in rolling out the infrastructure for 5G services, make all the bandwidth available for all the companies and then tell the wireless companies that they can lease access to the system and then that way all the wireless companies become the leasing agents and sell devices that operate on the network but all devices can access all spectrum available. The wireless carriers then have to compete on price. It would allow small carriers to enter the market not have to rely on being a Mobile VirtuL Network Operator locked to deals they had to negotiate with a specific carrier or carriers. It would allow consumers to purchase handsets out right and then not have to fight with devices being ‘ocked to a particular carrier and it would allow connected devices to be built that would not have to worry about irate consumers finding their products only work in certain areas.
More importantly it would give allow the government to get a return on the spending rather than just give it to the carriers who then blindly continue on their anticompetitive practices and the airwaves remain the property of the taxpayer.
Sure, we hear all the doomsayers talking about government spying! Let’s remember that it hasn’t stopped the American Government spying on us with the networks being in the hands of these wireless carriers and broadband operators. It would simply be business as usual, the only difference is that the roll out would be far wider spread and without the omission of various places simply because it was not economical to push service to that area or for the service provider to charge horrendous fees simply to make the connection.
Eisenhower had his job creation around the Interstate Highway System maybe it’s time that Donald Trump had his Internet Highway System…