A Pentagon request for information that led to speculation about a nationwide 5G network created by a partnership between the mobile carriers and the government has provoked the wrath of Congressional leaders.\n\n5G resources\n\nWhat is 5G? Fast wireless technology for enterprises and phones\nHow 5G frequency affects range and speed\nPrivate 5G can solve some problems that Wi-Fi can\u2019t\nPrivate 5G keeps Whirlpool driverless vehicles rolling\n5G can make for cost-effective private backhaul\nCBRS can bring private 5G to enterprises\n\n\nThe controversy started with an official request for information from the Pentagon, which asks for guidance about the Department of Defense owning and operating 5G networks for domestic operations. Per Forrester vice president and research director Glenn O\u2019Donnell, the plan as discussed would amount to a public-private partnership funded through government stimulus money and overseen by the DoD, but it would be implemented and operated by one of the country\u2019s major wireless carriers.\nAccording to O\u2019Donnell, the carrier that wins the bid will deploy the required infrastructure, and maintain the network for both government and non-governmental users, using spectrum provided expressly for the purpose by the Pentagon. No direct contact with the Pentagon will be required for use of the network, and the carriers\u2019 existing 5G build plans will not be directly affected.\nThe impetus for the plan seems to be based in national security concerns. There\u2019s a perception among analysts that the U.S. is losing the race for widely deployed 5G tech to China, and that that poses a security risk for a future conflict.\n\u201cThe idea is that World War III isn\u2019t going to be fought with bullets and bombs, it\u2019s going to be fought with technology,\u201d said O\u2019Donnell. \u201cIf China builds better 5G or blockchain or masters quantum compute, and we don\u2019t, we just lost.\u201d\nThe network would be open, to some degree, to general use, and Gartner senior director and analyst Bill Ray said that that part of the network could work similarly to Mexico\u2019s Red Compartida or the Canadian Remote Rural Broadband system (CRRBS).\nBoth are government-backed networks designed to offer connectivity on a wholesale basis\u2014that is, that the spectrum involved will be available to anyone who wants to use it to provide network coverage. So, for example, Verizon might win the tender to build the network, but would have to make the infrastructure available for use by other operators in places where it doesn\u2019t want to sell services.\nWireless carriers are likely to be of two minds in regard to the proposal, experts say. On the one hand, those carriers have lobbied vociferously for decades against federal oversight of their industry. The idea of further government involvement in the deployment of 5G will undoubtedly raise hackles of the major wireless carriers such as Verizon and AT&T, according to Ray, who are already irked at having to share some bands of spectrum like Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) instead of having it all to themselves.\n\u201cThe carriers don\u2019t like CBRS, they don\u2019t like spectrum being given away,\u201d he said. \u201cThey\u2019re in favor of anything that maintains the oligopoly.\u201d\nBut, should the plan come to pass, competition to be the vendor that gets to deploy the network will be fierce, given the scope of the network being talked about and the government subsidy that could come with it.\nAccording to Ray, however, there\u2019s one major drawback to modeling America\u2019s proposed national 5G network after either Canada or Mexico\u2019s systems\u2014they don\u2019t work particularly well.\n\u201c[The CRRBS] hasn\u2019t been successful, the rules are complicated, and people haven\u2019t made money out of it, and I don\u2019t think the Red Compartida has been terribly successful, either,\u201d he said. \u201cWe don\u2019t have a successful model of this anywhere in the world.\u201d\nThe speculated plan has also drawn harsh criticism from Congress. Two Democrats on the Energy and Commerce committee, Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. and Mike Doyle, said in open letters to the US Government Accountability Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that the Pentagon cannot be in the business of running even a partially commercial wireless network, as this circumvents regulations around spectrum allocation.\n\u201cIt appears now \u2026 that DoD is attempting to usurp the NTIA\u2019s authority once again,\u201d said one letter. \u201cNo government agency owns spectrum.\u00a0 Users are allocated spectrum based on need, and if there is a higher use, spectrum can and should be reallocated.\u201d\nMoreover, Pallone and Doyle accused the White House of pushing the plan along at the behest of a company called Rivada, Inc., which has \u201clong championed a national network that Rivada would construct and operate using its sharing technology,\u201d and which has close ties to the president and his supporters, including Karl Rove, Peter Thiel and Brad Parscale.