Culture

Trump wants to give a GOP-supported firm 5G spectrum for free

The 5G rollout continues being flooded with tension. This time, the White House might be seeking to subvert a related bid.

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The 5G rollout has been inundated with all sorts of controversies. Think about the 5G conspiracy theories, the misleading commercial content around it, and of course, now it's being used as a bartering chip in politics, according to CNN. The news network reports that the White House is particularly interested in putting pressure on the Department of Defense to hand Rivada Networks a highly expensive 5G spectrum.

To give you an idea of just how pricey the auction is, a 70 megahertz of spectrum was sold for $4.5 billion. This specific megahertz spectrum, at 350, is priced at billions higher than that. Naturally, there's a lot of cash involved. According to CNN, Donald Trump is pushing the Pentagon to give Rivada this band contract at little to no cost.

There's reason for apprehension. Rivada has connections with major Republican investors and supporters, and it could potentially boost the commercial use of 5G for people like Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, and Peter Thiel who is buddies with the president. If this particular "request for proposal" (RFP) goes through, these investors will have a chance to use the spectrum for their own gains without ever truly paying the full price. A senior administration official told CNN that if the bid goes through, it could be "the biggest handoff of economic power to a single entity in history."

Trump should expect backlash — Despite being surrounded by his yes-men, Trump is going to have to deal with a considerable amount of backlash from entities like the Energy and Commerce Committee. The House Energy and Commerce has already probed the issue and addressed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, saying that "Republican operatives are working for the benefit of a specific company, Rivada, which has long championed a national network that Rivada would construct and operate using its sharing technology."

In response to the report and the accusations that the president is seeking to subvert a legal bidding process, the White House has denied any nefarious agenda. To answer the concerns of its critics, Trump's administration will have to prove that it has no ulterior motive for speeding up the Rivada RFP.

That inquiry is already in action. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has already called on the Government Accountability Office to assess if the Defense department even has the power to hand the 5G spectrum to a private entity. The most probable answer is that it doesn't.