Wall Street Journal
The deployment of superfast 5G networks is supposed to usher in a new era for so much more than the smartphone—everything from enhanced virtual-reality videogames to remote heart surgery. That vision has been slow to come into focus, but a first wave of 5G-enabled gadgets is emerging.
Satellite entrepreneur Charlie Ergen and computer whiz Michael Dell have a plan to open up little-used wireless frequencies to millions of customers with a new 5G service. The proposal has sparked a ruckus among billionaires. Elon Musk’s SpaceX filed an objection with the Federal Communications Commission saying the “scheme” would wreck his broadband-from-orbit service. Ergen’s Dish Network responded with an FCC filing that accused SpaceX of “flimsy” and “far-fetched” criticism.
Included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill is $65 billion for broadband deployment. Most of that, $42 billion, is slotted for subsidies to rural communications networks, promising to conquer the digital divide. This is doubtful. The government has already expended at least $200 billion (in 2021 dollars) on the Universal Service Fund established by the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Most of the money was meant to extend networks that serve rural areas, but some was also allocated to schools and libraries, healthcare facilities and low-income mobile phone users.