John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Making the Internet Go to 11

Posted on June 20, 2018
5G is like the internet going to 11.

Except there is nothing imaginary about the differences between 4G and 5G.

Nigel Tufnel could have made 10 louder just as Marty DiBergi suggested in the movie This Is Spinal Tap.

But it will actually take the rapid deployment of all kinds of technologies to make the country ready for 5G.

Here is what PC Magazine says about the G:

“The G in 5G means it's a generation of wireless technology. While most generations have technically been defined by their data transmission speeds, each has also been marked by a break in encoding methods, or "air interfaces," which make it incompatible with the previous generation.

1G was analog cellular. 2G technologies, such as CDMA, GSM, and TDMA, were the first generation of digital cellular technologies. 3G technologies, such as EVDO, HSPA, and UMTS, brought speeds from 200kbps to a few megabits per second. 4G technologies, such as WiMAX and LTE, were the next incompatible leap forward, and they are now scaling up to hundreds of megabits and even gigabit-level speeds.

5G brings three new aspects to the table: greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).”

T-Mobile and Sprint have a plan to take America to 5G.   In their Public Interest Statement submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (or FCC), the two companies explained why their proposed merger, to be known as the New T-Mobile, is essential for 5G Deployment:

“New T-Mobile Will Build a World-Class Nationwide 5G Network That Will Leapfrog Verizon and AT&T’s Networks. New T-Mobile will invest nearly $40 billion to combine the complementary spectrum, sites, and assets of T-Mobile and Sprint to deliver a robust, nationwide world-class 5G network and services sooner than otherwise possible. Current Sprint customers will realize 4G LTE coverage benefits; T-Mobile customers will realize improvements from the greater depth of spectrum; and, as the 5G network is built out, the speed and capacity gains will be significant. By 2024, the New T-Mobile network will have approximately double the total capacity and triple the total 5G capacity of T-Mobile and Sprint combined, with 5G speeds four to six times what they could achieve on their own. In the face of this challenge, Verizon and AT&T will need to respond with improved and accelerated 5G network investment and deployment to the betterment of all consumers and the country.”

5G is essential not just for American competitiveness, but also to make life better for the average American.

For the Fortnight player, 5G means being able to play the game from just about any location with any device in the covered area.  Ok, maybe that’s not the best example.

But 5G will have profound impact on how we drive, where we drive to, and what we do when we get there.  Without 5G being fully implemented, it’s hard to imagine how we get to driverless cars.  Without 5G, telemedicine, where surgeons perform actual surgeries over the Internet, won’t happen.  5G allows parents to check on new babies who are in incubators from home.

Of course, 5G has strategic implications as well.  What roads, ports, railways, highways and airways were to national security in the 19th and 20th century, 5G will be in the 21st Century.  This is how the Public Interest Statement put it: “As Chairman Pai has stated, the United States should “be the best country for innovating and investing in 5G networks” and “continue[] to lead in 5G and to enable wireless consumers to benefit from these technologies sooner rather than later.” New T-Mobile’s 5G nationwide network will help ensure that this leadership happens right here in the United States.”

The merger of Sprint and T-Mobile makes this all happen faster for consumers because it makes for better competition.

The National League East is better this year because the Braves are better, the Phillies are better and yes the Nationals are still very good (it’s hard to say they are better).   The competition among these three teams lifts the quality of play and makes the experience better for the baseball fan.

With a stronger new T-Mobile, the competition will heat up with AT&T and Verizon.  The stronger T-Mobile will make AT&T and Verizon invest more money in 5G just to keep up with the new team on the block.  This is very good for consumers.

Once again, this is how they put it in the Public Interest Statement:

The combined company’s network will have enormous capacity that will incentivize New T-Mobile to compete vigorously to “fill up” the network. This increased pressure to utilize added capacity is supported by New T-Mobile’s financial plan, which calls for the company to provide a combination of greater value and lower cost for conventional data services and to continue offering subscribers more data each year without increasing prices. Indeed, as Dr. David S. Evans substantiates, added capacity has historically reduced unit prices for consumers, and it will continue to do so here.”

“T-Mobile and Sprint Are Merging to Beat Verizon and AT&T, Not to Be Like Them. Verizon and AT&T are investing in a wide array of businesses in recognition of a converging broadband market, and therefore their interests and resources are spread across a lot of areas. New T-Mobile will be laser-focused on improved broadband connectivity at a lower price. This means New T-Mobile will not be coordinating with AT&T, Verizon or other large players to increase prices or restrict the amount of data delivered per dollar.”

I thought Grover Norquist, the conservative activist and head of Americans for Tax Reform, put it well when he applauded the merger

The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint creates more viable competition in the marketplace for Americans to access affordable, fast, and ubiquitous broadband service. This merger is in the interest of Americans who want faster internet access and propels us forward on the path to 5G wireless technology in an international innovation race.”

“In terms of US market share, T-Mobile and Sprint are ranked 3rd and 4th respectively. Even with their combination, the new entity will still be in third place with 126 million subscribers. This is behind Verizon’s 150 million subscribers and AT&T’s subscribership of 142 million.”

“Their combination will contribute to the health of not just the wireless marketplace, but also the broadband market as a whole. This merger means more - not less - jobs as building a nationwide 5G network includes investments in rural America. The combined company will have more resources to deploy technology and open stores, which will spur job opportunities throughout the country.”

In full disclosure, Sprint is one of my clients, but even if I didn’t do work for them, I would endorse this merger.  It will bring the Internet to 11.

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