nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes
BOFH
Lectures

back to article
Trump White House mulls nationalizing 5G... an idea going down like 'a balloon made out of a Ford Pinto'

Silver badge

It even falls back on the US government's long-held desire to export American ideals to the rest of the globe. "Eventually, this effort could help inoculate developing countries against Chinese neo-colonial behavior,"

In other words, everyone else gets a US govt backdoor instead.

23
2
ST
Silver badge
FAIL

splicing cables to intercept wireless

> In other words, everyone else gets a US govt backdoor instead.

And that's because, in your view, the only possible way of intercepting wireless communications is by manufacturing the cell towers and the cells, and then shipping them with secret microphones glued to them?

Here's a helpful visual for you.

0
4
Silver badge

"It even falls back on the US government's long-held desire to export American ideals to the rest of the globe."

Yes we definitely need lots of gung-ho idiots with unnecessary firearms. And Elon Musk flame throwers.

7
2
Silver badge

What race?

What's with all this "win the race" talk? Who are we racing with and why? How does whether or not other nations deploy internal communications infrastructure before the US matter? It certainly seems less important than taking the time to do it correctly.

42
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: What race?

Agreed. I also found this quote strange

"The government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the US wireless industry to win the race to 4G."

Especially because looking in terms of penetration (sorry Wikipedia but too lazy to search further) the USA is only 4th in terms of penetration

Rank Country/Territory Penetration

1 South Korea 96%

2 Japan 93%

3 Norway 87%

4 United States 87%

And talking about implementation dates, the South Koreans and Norwegians both beat the States to early 4G systems. So winning means not coming first or having the highest penetration?

34
0
Silver badge

Re: What race?

Indeed, who? And if it comes to "racing" against other countries, the US is nowhere near the front. AFAIK the Japanese, South Koreans, and large chunks of Europe had 4G long before the US...

Japan and South Korea seem to deploy networks so quickly that the ink has barely had time to dry on the standards documents before they have national coverage and an array of competing providers. I know they have smaller geographic areas to cover, but even so.

There's a kind of nationalisation here in the UK; network operators are under some pressure these days to share base station sites. That's not so very far removed from turning all the operators into virtual networks on a single physical network...

Some kind of sense? Perhaps. I suspect that a radio network works and scales far better when it's the only network, instead of having to compete for spectrum, cell tower sites, back haul network capacity, etc.

10
1
Bronze badge
Go

Re: JohnFen Re: What race?

"..... It certainly seems less important than taking the time to do it correctly." Exactly. I'd be much more impressed by a push to implement 4G (or even 3G, TBH) properly across the States so that it's not just a cr*p experience outside cities and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

15
0
Silver badge

Re: JohnFen What race?

With the rush to 4G, 3G is in danger of being forgotten, which is kind of a missed opportunity. There's 3G spectrum out there, and a growing stockpile of spare kit; it may as well be used properly.

I know that 3G networks are nasty to set up well (ask any network engineer about cell breathing). But a well set up network is still a very good thing. Anyone with experience of Japan's NTT Docomo's 3G network whilst on a Shinkansen train doing 190mph in a tunnel and still getting 20Mbit/s will testify to the potential 3G had / has.

It's very easy for us Europeans to tease the US about the poor state of some of its infrastructure (power, wireless networks, etc). However I don't think many Europeans really realise just how vast and empty large chunks of the US really are. It's vast.

It's a major engineering challenge to provide things like power and comms to places which are very nearly empty. Same goes for Canada, Australia, Russia, China, Africa, etc.

5
2
Silver badge

Re: JohnFen What race?

"It's a major engineering challenge to provide things like power and comms to places which are very nearly empty."

I would correct this a bit. It's not a major engineering challenge to provide such service at all. The major challenge is doing it in a way that is profitable.

17
1
Silver badge

Re: What race?

Especially because looking in terms of penetration (sorry Wikipedia but too lazy to search further) the USA is only 4th in terms of penetration

Rank Country/Territory Penetration

1 South Korea 96%

2 Japan 93%

3 Norway 87%

4 United States 87%

Oh, so that's why Donald Drumpf is so gung-ho on bringing in Norwegian immigrants....

11
0
Silver badge

Re: What race?

Because the capitalist approach has worked so far... Oh, wait, no, the capitalist approach wasn't allowed to develop in the USA. Instead the government and the states offered quasi-state-sponsored monopolies to the companies to implement their systems.

So there is no capitalistic competition and as soon as someone starts threatening these monopolies, they act all hurt. Mobile is not as bad as cabled communications in the USA, but it certainly is a joke compared to what most countries seem to offer nowadays.

9
0
Silver badge

Re: What race?

"The wireless industry agrees that winning the race to 5G is a national priority"

...and...

"There is nothing that would slam the breaks [sic] more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment more quickly than the federal government stepping-in to build those networks..."

Those two quotes caught my attention too. The idea that there is a 'race' seems entirely specious, which makes leading and winning it meaningless.

Still, it's been said for a reason, so what the statement does tell us that the US comms industry really wants 5G but isn't prepared to tell us why.

4
0
Silver badge

YHBT

Clearly, some intern has successfully trolled not only Ajit Pai, but the entire US mobile industry.

"Slam the breaks on", indeed. Sheesh, he couldn't even wait for someone competent to proofread his cliches.

19
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: YHBT

Nowhere in the "leaked" document does it indicate who made it, and it certainly doesn't have any White House markings of any kind. Nor was it actually "released" officially or even unofficially. Further, it appears to be a bit of an amateur job at best.

Finally, the whole idea is the exact opposite of what Trump normally supports. It's the kind of thing Obama would love, tho.

Yet this author authoritatively states in the very first sentence: "A proposal by the Trump administration to effectively nationalize next-generation 5G networks in America..."

There is zero credibility for this statement by the author. The very epitome of Fake News. Tsk.

3
22
Silver badge
Happy

Re: YHBT

Well, you newer know what comes out of the White House.

I had a listen at [audiobook] Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yumbVdnZQ0Y

And allegedly the White Chief created a lead balloon asking "why cant we give health care to everybody". Could it be he is a Democrat in a sheep's night robe.

Who knows, did he not actually fire Comey because he was mean towards Hillary, (an other lead balloon).

2
1
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Wow

The cry of fake news has become somewhat of a knee-jerk reflex, hasn't it?

13
1
Silver badge

Re: YHBT

It's the kind of thing Obama would love, tho.

You just can't help yourself, can you? Like Trump, you blurt out any old nonsense to fill your need to slag off his predecessor.

You must think this was all a bad idea.

10
1
Silver badge

Re: YHBT

Nonsense? Nationalizing the private communications networks is, you must admit, a leftist kind of idea. Righties want capitalism, so they want private industry left alone.

Are you now claiming that Obama was a rightie? Puhlease.

0
0

To my mind, a national network, even with all the pitfalls, surveillance or otherwise, is inevitable. If nothing else, eliminating redundant bandwidth will eventually force the issue. It would have to be either a national network or some sort of franchising scheme (similar to the cable industry). But even a franchising system would end up posing problems because mobile devices don't have a fixed location, so how bad could those "roaming" charges get.

I seriously doubt the current administration has the competence to pull it off, but maybe if we start talking about it now, better resources might come along by the time we start getting serious about implementation.

10
1

These companies only won that race because the US Gov't built the internet with public money and then turned it over to private enterprise. This is a great screwing over of the people.

14
4
Anonymous Coward

A national 5g network? I foresee privatisation where the public pay through their taxes for the infrastructure and the resulting corporation pays nothing and then the resulting IPO where some politicians make a lot of money, e.g. BT in the UK.

8
0
Holmes

Was that the"Horst Wessel" the Marine Band was practicing?

Only under a wanna-be authoritarian president would an idea like this be touted. Of course sensible people can see an encroachment on privacy here. After all, if you control the communications system, you control the people! All we need now is for Admiral Poindexter (og "Total Information Awareness" fame) to be appointed project manager!

I was amused to see the CNN article on this juxtaposed with an article on a major security shortfall due to a GPS jogging app. That says it all! Why would we believe that security is the real reason for this, when it's clear that the government hasn't a magic shield to protect us?

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Was that the"Horst Wessel" the Marine Band was practicing?

"Of course sensible people can see an encroachment on privacy here."

Indeed, but to be honest here, the encroachment of privacy will be the same regardless of whether or not 5G is nationalized.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

They don't seem too bothered about winning the race to provide healthcare or education to citizens.

33
0
Anonymous Coward

They don't seem too bothered about winning the race to provide healthcare or education to citizens.

Trump loves the uneducated.

26
0
Anonymous Coward

"They don't seem too bothered about winning the race to provide healthcare or education to citizens."

Or sorting out their terrible teeth.

4
1
Silver badge
Thumb Up

In the land of the free you're free to rack up massive debts getting basic healthcare.

You're also free to use that lack of education to join the 0.7% of the population that's locked up, because apparently "land of the free" means "land of the incarcerated" in American English.

Freedom! F**k yeah!

4
1
Silver badge
Holmes

If they're so worried about wireless network security...

...then make the wireless carriers replace SS7 with something that doesn't suck.

10
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: If they're so worried about wireless network security...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with SS7. Provided that absolutely everyone on the network is trustworthy, dependable, regulated, just like they used to be.

The problems only set in when some cheap arse network operators out there decided that running SS7 over Internet connections was cheaper than doing it properly, in effect giving world+dog access (with only moderate levels of hacking given how badly they're reported to have secured all this) to a network that was never designed to be secure against malicious network members in the first place.

What engineers create, accountants can destroy with the stroke of a cost saving. Bastards.

9
0
Silver badge

Re: If they're so worried about wireless network security...

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with SS7. Provided that absolutely everyone on the network is trustworthy, dependable, regulated"

If any system relies on everyone interacting with it to be trustworthy, dependable, competent and without ill intent, then that system is inherently flawed.

As SS7 itself demonstrates, since people have been hacking such systems before they were anywhere near the internet.

5
0

One of the challenges not mentioned, is that the US is very large in terms of square kilometers/miles/(insert REG unit of area here) in comparison to South Korea, Japan or Norway.

So nationalizing the initial 5G buildout is not on the surface a bad idea. Too soon to dig deeper, and honestly it is unlikely to happen. Guaranteed if the US government builds it, it will be to increase capbailities of the spy state already in place.

5
0
Silver badge

The US is about 475 times the area of Wales. Japan and Norway are about 18 Waleses each, South Korea about 5.

On the other hand, the US's GDP is about 50 times that of Norway, and its land area is only 26 times it. The US's population density is also higher. So that seems like a pretty poor excuse.

Nevertheless, this isn't going to happen. Since everyone (who matters) and his (they're all male, naturally) dog hates the idea, and since - significantly - no-one in the government is speaking up to defend it, I think at this stage it can safely be written off as a troll. An internal document, probably produced by some junior staffer just for completeness, that's been leaked. It was never in danger of becoming official policy.

5
0

Easier spying though.

0
1
Unhappy

"Who would you trust to run a secure network that remains focused on its users' needs: public mobile companies or the federal government?"

Is this a trick question? Can I pick option 3, "neither"?

13
0
Silver badge
Devil

Who would you trust?

Seeing that "public mobile companies" seem to be part of the megacorporate ownership of much of the more right wing side of US politics, it is currently the same thing as the US federal government - with a little help from Vlad the Invader anway...

1
0
Silver badge

"There is nothing that would slam the breaks [sic] more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment screwing the US customer out of proper broadband more quickly than the federal government stepping-in to build those networks."

There, FTFY.

Oh, and Pumpkin Pie is biting Trump's hand ? Wow. Talk about wearing your loyalty on your coat. Nobody can doubt who he's working for now.

If you think that private-company-managed communications are going to protect you from the NSA, I have a bridge to sell you.

7
0

Just like the Aussie Not Better Network?

Having just one group building a shared network should be more efficient, quicker and cost less. Reality says that doesn't happen. See Australia NBN as an example.

5
0

We have 4G?

I thought 4G was supposed to hit 1Gbps to a stationary target, and a couple hundred megabit to a moving target going slower than an airliner. I don't get anywhere close to that.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: We have 4G?

That's because US telecoms couldn't actually deploy 4G, so they pressured the ITU to change the definition of what "4G" is so they could.

8
0

American Backdoor

I think I've seen that movie.

4
0
Silver badge

"encourage and incentivize America’s broadband companies"

So it's wrong for the government to spend public money no its own monopoly/oligopoly but fine to subsidise private ones?

0
0
Silver badge

Make America fascist again?

I think using fear mongering in order to justify the government takeover of an industry is more fascist than socialist. I think it's on page 1 of the instruction manual.

1
0
Bronze badge
Joke

That'll fly like a Chevy Nova in Mexico...

Well gee, now we need Mythbusters to try to fly a balloon made from a Ford Pinto to see if it can be done or not before we can roll out 5G! Do you think they can get Trumped-Up to stand under it before they release it from the crane's hook?

0
0
Bronze badge
Big Brother

All your datum are belong to U.S.

Having the US government install the 5G network and them in turn selling access to network providers is not a BACK door. It is not even a FRONT door. It's ownership of the whole building with free right and expectation that they may enter at any time without notice. It is a complete dissolution of any expectation of privacy.

In that respect, it makes complete sense for the US government to be supportive of such a plan. No longer will they even need to pretend to be obtaining permission for warrantless wiretaps. It'll make so many questionably legal practices so very easy for them by negating all law.

"It's our network. Why wouldn't we have access to every single thing on it?"

0
0
Anonymous Coward

gotta love it.

If One Party wants to nationalize a thing, naysayers are ridiculed, silenced ignored and eventually overrun.

the Other Party wants to nationalize a thing, and the naysayers are promoted, celebrated and their advice taken.

So as these current naysayers correctly point out all the flaws in nationalizing 5G, they also show the same flaws that exist in all nationalization dreams.

So we can screw up healthcare with a f**ked up federal interference scheme, but can't touch the holy internet and mobile communications industry, eh?

0
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing