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A Government-Mandated Wholesale Network Won't Win 5G

March 18, 2019 / Fred Campbell
SHARESHARESHARE

Newt Gingrich recently posited a real problem: that China wants to control wireless networks and technologies worldwide to advance its geopolitical goals. He then proposed an unreal non-solution: that the U.S. should mandate a wholesale-only market for the next generation of wireless broadband, popularly known as 5G (for fifth-generation). When Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr (correctly) described the proposed wholesale mandate as a “China-like” policy, Mr. Gingrich responded by claiming that the FCC’s current market-based method of allocating spectrum rights “is outmoded, broken, and incapable of allowing private companies to bring the United States to global leadership in 5G,” because it has resulted in a “government-created oligopoly.” Mr. Gingrich calls his proposed wholesale mandate a “moonshot,” a term that Google famously uses to describe a radical proposal for solving a huge problem with technology. There is nothing new, however, about imposing a wholesale mandate on a communications network through government regulation. Similar mandates have been imposed on communications networks in the U.S. (the monopoly telephone network) and other countries with little success.