Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

 

11/2/18

As I have been reading about the race to 5G and the push by the telecom carriers to access utility and other poles as expeditiously as possible to win the global race — all supposedly for the greater good of the country while providing broadband to rural America and winning the “Infinity War” of all things that could ever relate to technology, I thought to myself…hmmm.  And then I remembered the song, “Things That Make You Go….Hmmm” by C+C Music Factory, released in 1991.  Apparently, this song was an homage to a skit from the Arsenio Hall Show.  But I digress, and I am dating myself…

I guess what makes me go hmmm about the race to 5G (and all of its as yet unfulfilled promises) is the hhhype.  Specifically:

  • What, really, is 5G? Do we even have ubiquitous 4G service in this country?  Or even 3G? Hmmm…
  • Who are we racing and why? I have heard that we are racing the Chinese.  But, last I checked, there are no Chinese telecom carriers or wireless providers in the U.S.  I mean, is the assumption that the faster we roll out 5G, the faster our economy will beat the Chinese economy, even more than we are now (according to the IMF and World Bank, our GDP is about 35 percent higher than that of China)?  The “race,” instead, seems to be between the carriers themselves, and these private corporations seem to want to put small cells on public and private poles, rights of way and streetlights for nominal fees and with little regard to other infrastructures’ needs, much less the needs of the consumers who are cross-subsidizing these attachments.  Hmmm…
  • Why is it okay for the Federal Communications Commission to allow private, multi-billion dollar, almost entirely unregulated companies to essentially “take” public and private property from local governments, utilities, and others? How is 5G an essential service more than electricity or water or critical local government service?  Hmmm…
  • When small cells (and cable and fiber) are put on utility poles by telecom and cable companies–with ridiculously low attachment rates in many cases–there is an engineering impact, yet when utility poles are downed by weather events such as hurricanes, who is held solely responsible and accountable for the restoration?   Hmmm…
  • How is 5G going to help rural America? The ostensible purveyors of 5G are small cells. Small cells are good for short-range service. Short-range service is not helpful in vast rural areas.  Hmmm…
  • Who is actually providing broadband service to rural America? Some rural telecom providers have made inroads, but when electric utilities also try to help bridge the rural digital divide by selling the extra bandwidth that they do not need for their internal telecom networks, or by themselves provisioning broadband externally to the unserved or underserved consumers in their electric utility service territories, the carriers fight them tooth and nail.  But the carriers themselves clearly have chosen to ignore these areas for years.  They don’t want to provide the service, but don’t want others to either.  Hmmm…

The bottom line is that some important questions seem to go unasked as the carriers go full throttle in their “race” to 5G. On another, less serious note, why do I think that the calories in Halloween candy don’t count?  It is a lie.  Hmmm…

Until we meet again.