US campaigners want fibre built out before 5G wins rural funds

via flickr ©  M0les (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via flickr © M0les (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  • But in doing so find themselves lined up with the tin foil mad hatters
  • The ‘stop 5G’ groups are now adding telco financial misappropriation to the list of alleged harms wrought by the introduction of 5G
  • As we should all know by now, good arguments count for nought; a drum beat of claims, both false and well-founded, tends to end in burning cell towers

Today is the day (April 23) that the FCC is to vote on Chairman Pai’s proposal for the creation of a $9 billion ‘5G Fund for Rural America’. The money will be dispersed via a reverse auction with the objective of getting the telcos to commit to covering ‘hard to reach’ rural populations with 5G signals. The auction is designed to prioritise areas that have yet to see any LTE or even 3G coverage.  

But at least one public interest group in the US is against the idea of the fund. Bruce Kushnick, who heads the IRREGULATORS group, campaigns against what he alleges is the big US telcos’ misappropriation of monies siphoned off from the wireline network revenues and initially earmarked for the build-out of fibre. Instead, ex-analyst Kushnick alleges that the telcos, with the connivance of the FCC, have transferred those wireline revenues to the build-out of their wireless networks. 

“Telephone customers across the country who have been paying frequent price increases and extra fees on their phone bills for years to finance a national fiber optic network are today demanding that the FCC refuse to grant telecoms $9 billion to build out their 5G wireless networks until they complete the fiber-optic network they have been promising since the 1990s," Kushnick alleges in a press release. 

He wants the money he says was stolen from telephone users returned and, while it isn’t, he doesn’t want the taxpayer paying even more under the cover of the pandemic to build out networks he says they should have built years ago. That may be a reasonable position, except... 

He now appears to be arguing against a 5G build that could conceivably benefit unconnected rural users - a difficult corner to fight from for a public interest group. 

He has also found dubious anti-5G allies who, naturally, thrill to the idea that those building the 5G networks are doing it on misappropriated funds.

 "It's outrageous that the telecoms are using this national emergency to try to get billions from the government to build out their private wireless networks," says Doug Wood, founder of non-profit Americans for Responsible Technology, which advocates a curb on the deployment of 5G for health reasons. 

"These companies collected billions in fees from hard-working Americans, and then stiffed them out of the fiber-optic network they paid for. The FCC has no business helping those who have already helped themselves." 

Whatever the veracity of Kushnick’s allegations, there’s no doubt he has found himself in a problematic position from a public interest point of view, as he now appears to be campaigning against 5G as much as he’s campaigning for the fibre build. And in doing so, he’s allowing unproven claims of radiation harms from 5G to creep into the messaging.

As we’ve discovered here in Europe, this can be a slippery slope. First comes the community concern about property values around new levels of radiation (actually, with mid-band 5G there isn’t any increase); then you add in some misleading horror stories about 5G and cancer; then some idiot latches onto the idea that 5G has caused the coronavirus and that indicates to someone somewhere else that urgent action is required. Before you know it a moron has set fire to your local cell tower and you can’t call the fire brigade to come and put it out. 



We want to hear from you!

Take part in our 5G and Security survey and receive a free copy of the downloadable report ahead of general release.

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.