White House Praised for Signaling No Nationalizing of 5G

The White House and FCC were generally getting good marks for the announced new investment in rural broadband deployment (a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) and the latest auction to free up spectrum for 5G, particularly the President's signal that his Administration did not plan to nationalize a 5G network.

"[W]e’re not going to rely on a government-owned wholesale 5G network, nor are we going to rely on a government fiber backhaul network," said the High Tech Forum. "This will be disappointing to Obama administration figures....who advocate government control of network infrastructure, of course.

"[A]nyone who’s been holding their breath for a government network is disappointed. That’s just not going to happen in the USA regardless of which political party controls the White House."

Related: Pai Opposes Nationalized 5G Net

“Today’s statement by the President puts an end—once and for all—to any misguided notions of nationalizing spectrum resources or government-mandated wholesale 5G markets," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker. "The White House’s continued commitment to the free-market principles that have made the U.S. the global leader in wireless recognizes this industry’s remarkable track record of investing in our nation’s connectivity infrastructure—$226 billion in the last nine years alone. We thank the President and chairman Pai for their leadership. We agree with the Administration and the FCC that bringing next-generation wireless networks to more Americans is critical and that quickly freeing up more spectrum—particularly mid- and high-band spectrum—will help ensure our continued 5G global leadership.”

“We’re not Venezuela. We do not need a big government role over the networks; we need massive private investment working with the federal government to win the race to 5G," said Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. "I applaud President Trump and chairman Pai’s commitment to this approach. 5G is the future and America must lead. Likewise, to truly win this race, all Americans must be included. The $20.4 billion over 10 years to rural broadband – titled the 'Rural Digital Opportunity Fund' – is an unprecedented assurance to every community that you will be part of this next wave of wireless connectivity.”

"It takes considered policy to create the conditions for broadband innovation to thrive," said Doug Brake, director of broadband and spectrum management for the information Technology and Innovation Foundation. "Chairman Pai’s 5G FAST and Rural Digital Opportunity Fund initiatives will help accelerate the transition to next-generation, 5G wireless technology and close the digital divide in rural areas. What is more, the President’s clear statements that the deployment of 5G will be led by the private sector thankfully sound the death knell on rumors of a harebrained wholesale 5G network.

"To build upon the good work on 5G by the administration, we must transition more mid-band spectrum to commercial use as quickly as possible and ensure a uniform U.S. position on spectrum policy leading into the World Radio Conference."

Ken Cuccinelli of the FreedomWorks Foundation was also pleased at the signal there would be no nationalizing of the network.

“We applaud President Trump and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow for standing by the incredibly strong team of FCC Commissioners this administration has assembled, including chairman Ajit Pai. The work this administration's FCC has done to ensure America remains the world leader in internet and telecommunications technology will produce incalculable benefits for our economy for decades to come.

Related: Senate Bill Would Prevent 5G Net Nationalization

“While there were many ideas about a path forward on 5G, this administration deserves all the credit in the world for recognizing that the best way to outpace rivals like China is not to copy them, but do what America does best: unleash our unbeatable private sector.”

"Wi-Fi Alliance applauds FCC efforts to expand 5G services through establishment of the Rural Opportunity Fund. WiFi is essential to extending carrier 5G networks' coverage and enabling ubiquitous broadband and low-latency connections," said Alex Royblat, senior director for worldwide regulatory affairs. "This will aid in delivering much needed broadband connectivity to rural areas, powering e-commerce, smart farming, hospitals, education institutions and even emergency communications."

"Here’s the good news: American providers are already innovating and investing billions to create the foundation for our 5G future," said Jonathan Spalter, president of USTelecom. "We are building the extensive, ubiquitous, and secure wired backbone that will carry 5G traffic, deliver instantaneous connectivity and enable that wireless last mile.

“But winning the 5G race isn’t a forgone conclusion. It will take smart public policy and committed government partners championing initiatives like the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund – a big down payment to support the broadband providers who are digging trenches, pulling fiber and connecting Americans to the world’s most modern, high-speed communications network.”

"We thank President Trump and chairman Pai for their leadership on our nation's 5G deployment, especially their commitment to a free market-driven approach to 5G implementation," said Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro. "American ingenuity and the free market - not government command and control - have helped make us the world's most innovative country. And better enabling the private sector to deliver broadband to rural areas will help close our nation's rural-urban 'digital divide.'

"5G is a critical platform technology for life-changing innovations including artificial intelligence, digital health, self-driving vehicles and smart cities. But to win the international race to 5G we must remove unnecessary barriers to deployment, rescind tariffs on 5G-related imports, and ensure the world's greatest technologists can live and work in America. We look forward to working with the White House and FCC to help ensure our nation delivers the ever-faster anytime/anywhere connectivity we demand and remains the global leader in tech innovation."

“The U.S. leads the world in the deployment of 5G, and we applaud the Administration’s continued commitment to maintaining America’s leadership position," said David McAtee, AT&T senior EVP and general counsel. "As the largest investor in U.S. infrastructure for each of the last seven years, AT&T has already deployed 5G in 19 markets and will have 5G service nationwide next year. Today’s 5G FAST and Rural Digital Opportunity Fund initiatives will help ensure that, through tried and true free-market incentives, all Americans no matter where they live will enjoy the benefits of jobs, investment, and economic growth this new technology will foster.”

"With the leadership, determination and forward-looking policies approved by the administration and the FCC, we're paving a path that will help keep the U.S. as the global leader in this next generation network," said Verizon EVP Ronan Dunne. "We're asking others to join us in shaping this powerful and promising new technology -- a new era in communications that will transform the lives of consumers and businesses around the world."

There were a few words of caution as well.

“So far, this Administration’s interventions on 5G have done more harm than good," said FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "From imposing tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies on 5G security to falling behind the rest of the world on critical mid-band spectrum, the White House has yet to offer a workable plan for US leadership. On top of that, allies of this Administration are muddling our efforts with persistent talk of a nationalized 5G network. I hope today’s announcement offers better because our global leadership is at stake.”

“Today’s announcement raises many questions," said Public Knowledge SVP Harold Feld. "Most importantly, where will this money come from and over how many years? Is the Administration promising to provide new money for rural broadband through existing authority, or is the Administration going to need to ask Congress to provide new money? How will this differ from the Connect America Fund?" 

“CCA thanks the Administration for its focus on deploying 5G throughout the US and particularly for including rural areas in its plan," said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven Berry. "Auctioning additional spectrum and providing certainty regarding deployment policies will support industry efforts to bring the latest wireless services to urban and rural areas alike....CCA looks forward to participating in the development of the Rural Digital Opportunities fund to support 5G services nationwide. I thank the President, the Administration and FCC Chairman Pai for continued work to ensure the US remains a leader in 5G and look forward to continued work with policyholders to make it happen.” 

“Today’s announcements about bringing more spectrum to market – and additional federal support for high-speed broadband networks in rural America – will only help to further the initiatives that we passed last year and remain committed to work on in the Energy and Commerce Committee," said Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee. "I hope that continued efforts in Congress will complement this important work, and that the majority will not impose utility-style regulations on 5G and the innovative technologies that it will support.”

“Today’s announcement of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund represents a potentially significant leap forward in our nation’s efforts to overcome the digital divide," said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA-the Rural Broadband Association. "First and foremost, NTCA is delighted to see recognition from policymakers at the very highest levels of the inextricably integrated nature of communications networks—put another way, that wireless needs wires and 5G needs fiber."

“We support the efforts announced by the Administration today to accelerate 5G deployments. 5G relies on fiber—as do all our networks—and today’s announcement will drive fiber deeper into rural areas," said the Fiber Broadband Association. "And Chairman Pai’s plan for a Rural Digital Opportunities Fund has the promise, if properly structured, to propel fiber builds in rural areas, which is so critical if these communities are not to be left behind.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.