O’Rielly Calls Nationalized 5G Network “Horrible Idea”

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Commissioner Michael O’Rielly blasted the concept of a nationalized 5G network this week. Speaking to the audience at the CTIA 5G event Wednesday, part of GSMA Thrive this week, he acknowledged this was likely to be his last official speech as a public servant, after working for the federal government for 27 years, the past seven at the FCC.

He called the concept of a government-sponsored wholesale wireless network a “completely indefensible proposal” that has been repeatedly floated and rejected. “Now, it seems to be under consideration once again by some at the highest levels of our government. It’s a horrible idea that must be dismissed.”

The government, said the Commissioner, should not be allowed to give valuable mid-band spectrum to a favored entity to directly compete with the private sector. He finds flaws in the notion that this is the solution to provide broadband to the entire country, especially to rural areas. “Wireless dead spots,” while shrinking every day, said O’Rielly, “exist because of the extreme terrain and extraordinary cost of deploying in these areas, and there is no evidence that this wholesale network won’t have the same problems, especially without any proven track record or relationships with any existing, active wireless tower providers.”

O’Rielly said he’s not sad about leaving the agency later this fall. He’s “very excited” for what lies ahead. He spent the first 20 years of his career working in Republican communication policy and leadership positions on Capitol Hill.

The GSMA Thrive North America conference closed Thursday.

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