5G, the fifth generation wireless network, is quite controversial of late, even though it may be two or three years away from being functional. It will ostensibly provide consumers with notably faster speeds - maybe 100 times faster than 4G - and better overall connection quality. 5G has caused quite a stir for many reasons, not the least of which is its potential to be an elixir to remedy all of the United States' broadband connectivity issues in one fell swoop.
Beyond this, talk of 5G has ginned-up opinion amongsconspiracy. That this has no apparent basis, in fact, hasn’t allayed their concerns, or stemmed their outrage.
Ironically, much of the controversy was started by the Trump administration floating a trial balloon, in which the government would lead, or at least pave the way for a nationally-controlled, nationwide 5G system. This is a group of folks, by the way, who believe the “deep state” to be its mortal enemy, and an administration which in no way could be characterized as liberal-leaning in any way, shape, or form!
Since one element of the proposal was for 5G to shore up the nation’s cybersecurity defenses, it could initially pass muster with his right-wing base, as it would then be a national security priority.
Of course, the liberal mainstream media was all agog, as were many similarly-minded pundits. But the idea was shot down, and the trial balloon deflated, after pushback from Trump’s own FCC chairman, Ajit Pai. The deal, now laid to rest, did not deter the conspiracy theories promoted by the alt-right. At the heart of their fears is Google, already demonized for purportedly trying to silence right-wing speech on its platform.
This view was supported by a piece published recently in Gateway Pundit which opined that the quest to nationalize 5G networks was an odious plan hatched by Google and the “deep state.” It maintained that Eric Schmidt - a fixture in Obama’s White House- “discussed 5G with at least one West Wing official” sometime during the last few months.
In a way, such a discovery, even if true, would be more ironic than conspiratorial. I mean, Trump is toxic in Silicon Valley, and, anyway, A West Wing official could hardly be aligned with the “deep state”. Maybe Schmidt was there on a fence-mending mission, given the conservative diatribes against the likes of Google? Maybe it is exactly that, since the notion of a government controlled 5G network was kiboshed, Schmidt was pleading a case for cooperation with Google, since it has been working feverishly on 5G for some time?
Of course, Google has many reasons to be interested in 5G networks, their smooth implementation, and the ultimate regulation of them. After all, it has already conducted numerous trials of potential applications including millimeter wave. Google is also looking to wireless as it is cheaper than installing fiber to houses, and it allows more flexibility. It also could be that Schmidt’s visit had nothing whatsoever to do with 5G discussions. It was just a thing that corporate types do - make friends with Washington politicians.
Nevertheless, it stokes the imagination of the alt-right anti-deep state conspiracy theorists, who view any participation by Google (or its ilk) as a means by which deep state could open a backdoor that the NSA or any other governmental spy apparatus could enter with impunity and without warrants or oversight. Any marriage like that would be indeed scary if it were to ever materialize. But it is farfetched.
Personally, I can see where Google might want to keep clear channels open with the government, and be on good terms for the time when 5G becomes operational. But I don’t see it (or other tech companies for that matter) rushing to allow the government to control its infrastructure due to national cybersecurity claims. For that is just what would happen if the past is any portal into the future.