Tech

Here Are The Big Name Republicans Some Believe Are Pushing Congress To Nationalize 5G Buildup

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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Chris White Tech Reporter
  • Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich are among a handful of Republicans who are pressing Congress to take drastic steps to beat China on 5G development.
  • Analysts worry politically connected tech company Rivada Networks is using big name Republicans to lobby against legislation prohibiting nationalizing 5G development.
  • The Trump administration maintains opposition to nationalizing 5G development despite what Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale supports.

Karl Rove is among a handful of Republicans who are pressing Congress to nix legislation that effectively prohibits nationalization of fifth generation development.

Rove has contacted Republican lawmakers to warn them about legislation that would effectively prohibit government control of fifth generation mobile development, media reports show. The Bush-era adviser is working on behalf of Rivada Networks, a company that wants the government to mange the sharing of 5G airwaves.

An aide inside the office of Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told Politico in March that Rove contacted the Republican senator directly in hopes of discussing elements of a bill he proposed prohibiting nationalizing such network development. GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a similar bill that month. (RELATED: Trump Wants Big Tech To Jump Past 5G Technology And Move On To Something Bigger — 6G)

Newt Gingrich, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and a former Georgia congressman, is also an advocate of allowing the government to take a pronounced role in development. “Our own laissez-faire tendencies and preferences are being used to defeat us,” Gingrich wrote in an op-ed in February. Whatever happens with 5G development, he added, “the project could be nationwide, with broad geographic coverage.”

Gingrich added that a type of spectrum pushed by Rivada would be the solution to China’s recent breakneck fifth generation development.

Rivada Networks spokesman Brian Carney is pushing back against claims that his company is pushing for government control of 5G. “We don’t support nationalization of 5G networks. These are lies. There is no such creature,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation, referring to what he said is a cabal of media forces who are trying to paint the company as a socialistic monster.

“What they are trying to do is cement market power for these carriers. The whole controversy is ginned up to make the right feel like there’s some sort of conspiracy,” said Carney, who dismissed claims that Rove and a fellow Rivada investor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, are lobbyists for the company. He said that Rivada Network’s beef with Cornyn’s and Cruz’s legislation is mostly that they are engineered to create a boogeyman.

Analysts are not buying Carney’s story. Charles Duan, the director of technology and innovation policy at the R Street Institute, for one, argues that Rivada Networks stands to benefit immensely if the Trump administration seeks to govern a range of wireless spectrum, a type of radio frequency by which mobile phones communicate, for open access to 5G network devices.

Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove speaks during the SALT conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Brian

“Rivada has a sizable worldwide portfolio of at least 40 patents on ‘dynamic spectrum arbitrage,’ the coordination technology needed for 5G open access,” Duan said in an April 8 editorial for Fortune. “Those patents give Rivada a government-backed privilege to demand payments from—or even stop—anyone using the company’s open-access technology, and to sue those who refuse.”

Some reports meanwhile suggest that there is a type of tug-of-war taking place within the Trump administration over the issue. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale favors a federal role in 5G development, while a representative at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy told TheDCNF that economic adviser Larry Kudlow opposes nationalizing.

Amid the jockeying for position is a federal lawsuit against American telecommunications giant Qualcomm. Federal officials have had sit-down discussions with the Federal Trade Commission to encourage the agency to stop suing the company. They argue that financial losses from a court defeat would hamper Qualcomm’s ability to compete with China’s top chip maker, Huawei.

The Trump administration is targeting Huawei in a seemingly unrelated matter. The Department of Defense charged the Chinese telecommunications giant in January on several counts of fraud as Trump applies more pressure on China’s beleaguered economy. Officials accused executive Meng Wanzhou of bank fraud, wire fraud and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Trump meanwhile is pushing U.S. telecommunications companies to blow past China. “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard,” the president told his Twitter followers in February.

Rove did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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