Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedJuly 23rd, 2018

What is it?

This bill — known as the Eliminate From Regulators Opportunities to Nationalize the Internet In Every Respect Act (E-FRONTIER Act) — would prohibit the president or a federal agency from nationalizing 5G networks without authorization from Congress. It would also require the Comptroller General to conduct a security analysis of threats facing U.S. broadband networks from American adversaries.

Impact

Cell phone users; wireless industry; Congress; Comptroller General; and the president.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced this bill to protect commercial 5G broadband networks from nationalization without authorization from Congress:

“Fifth generation mobile technology has the potential to create millions of new jobs and unlock new breakthroughs across vital sectors of the American economy. Our American system of free enterprise has helped the United States become the global leader in mobile broadband technology since 2009, and it is best equipped to maintain our global leadership moving forward. [T]he private sector is best positioned to build, deploy, and secure 5G networks. [This] legislation would prevent massive government overreach in our private sector and assert the proper role of Congress in the decision making process. If we try to compete with China by acting like China, we will lose far more than our global leadership in mobile technology.”

In a Senate hearing in June 2018, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator David Redl stated that his advice to the President would be to “not move forward and nationalize 5G,” even though the White House has floated this idea. Additionally, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai called federal efforts to construct a nationalized 5G network counterproductive:

“Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

Pai added that the history of the wireless sector’s development indicates that keeping cellular network private is the best solution, arguing that “the main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades—including American leadership in 4G—is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.”

Broadband providers, who have already spent much time and money working on 5G, argue that it would be a total waste to have the government start over. To this point, Brooklyn-based broadband Skywire’s founder, Alan Levy, said:

“Individual companies spent billions of dollars on the spectrum. That’s how they’ve built these cellular networks, and these bands of the spectrum were auctioned off by the government, which has made billions from them. So that money has been expended and these networks are beginning to be deployed. That would certainly seem to be unfair and really inefficient.”

While there are no outright statements of opposition to this bill, some support a nationalized 5G network. Daniel Kahn Gillmore, a senior staff technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is among these. He argues that U.S. cell phone networks are currently vulnerable to foreign actors, and government involvement in cell networks has some real merit:

“The risks to the country of control by the network operator are real. The fact that your hardware vendor has leverage over you is real. And the fact that there are people who want to take advantage of you, whether inside the U.S. government or outside of it are real. So I think the premises of the proposal [to nationalize 5G] are legit.”

From this perspective, a government-run 5G network could be more secure than a decentralized patchwork of private networks due to the ability to have centrally-planned network upgrades (akin to the government’s switch from rabbit-ear to digital television).

Other arguments in favor of a government-run 5G include the contention that modern internet access is a public good, and that internet access will be more equitably available in the absence of a profit motive. On the former point, the ACLU’s Gillmore argues that “there’s [no] problem with governments running roads or sewer systems,” which are comparable to cellular networks as “modern internet access [is also] a utility.”

There is one cosponsor of this bill, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). The R Street Institute and CTIA also support this bill.


Of NoteIn January 2017, a National Security Council memo calling for nationalizing 5G mobile broadband networks was leaked — and since then, the Trump administration has declined to explicitly foreclose nationalizing 5G. In fact, in June 2018, President Trump’s campaign manager tweeted about the need for a single 5G network, suggesting a possibility that the current administration could support a nationalized 5G network.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has expressed the Trump administration’s prioritization of building a 5G mobile broadband network, stating:

“Whoever pursues it, whoever does it, we’re very much in support of 5G. We need it. We need it for defense purposes, we need it for commercial purposes.”

The U.S. wireless industry is already working on deploying 5G networks, with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile investing heavily in this area, and some cities slated to receive 5G service this year. As a whole, the industry has already spent billions of dollars acquiring spectrum and beginning to develop and test 5G networks. Collectively, the wireless industry has pushed aggressively for the Trump administration and Congress to aid in the “race to 5G,” which is argues will help the U.S. gain an economic edge over other countries, such as China, that are also pursuing such networks.

Theoretically, a U.S.-built 5G network could be more secure and resilient to Chinese government intrusions — a concern that arises in this area due to the fact that China is the dominant manufacturer of network instructure. However, a government network that is not subject to competitive pressure would also be immune from the financial and competitive pressures that drive private firms to innovate, maximize efficiency, and provide value to their customers in order to stay ahead of their competitors.

A middle ground between a government-owned 5G network and all private wireless providers building their own networks independently would be the companies coordinating efforts to build a “network of networks” or at least a common backbone for basic 5G applications. This was done in the mid-1990s, when the major carriers engaged in full-throated competition with each other while sharing the cost of building a common network and using the same infrastructure.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock / ispyfriend)

AKA

E-FRONTIER Act

Official Title

A bill to prohibit the President or a Federal agency from constructing, operating, or offering wholesale or retail services on broadband networks without authorization from Congress, and for other purposes.

    Yes, the Federal government already has their fingers in far too many pies. Limited government is something that I prize highly.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    This is a stupid unnecessary bill for a situation that doesn’t functionally exist. Let’s be realistic. This is the 21st century. Power is a utility, water is a utility, phones are utility, internet access is a utility. The government has never nationalized ANY OTHER UTILITY. Although it is true the USA has occasionally done short term receiverships, the United States has a culture that celebrates moderately regulated capitalism as the economic ideal. Over the past century, the U.S. government has occasionally nationalized railways, coal mines and steel mills, and it has even taken a controlling interest in banks when that was deemed to be in the national interest. However, these corporate “wards of the state” typically have been returned to private hands after short, sometimes fleeting, stretches under government stewardship. They have never taken over entire utility systems. Literally because they can’t. Our power system is not nationally connected. Our water systems are -really- not nationally connected. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of companies and for sure hundreds of thousands of US jobs that are players in the utility industry. There is no mechanism other than brief local receivership for industries as extensive as utilities. This bill is pointless drama. Why are are we fussing about this? All that is needed is a common backbone (minimum standards, functionality regulations, security laws, and inter-corporations agreements to provide fair cross platform data stream cooperation) and the individual companies can carry on from that point, just like they do for the other utilities. Sharing network infrastructure in order to better allocate capital and thus expand service to more people is not a radical idea. The wireless industry has done it before with great success. That’s how “moderately regulated capitalism” works. That’s the middle road.
    Like (83)
    Follow
    Share
    The internet has become a public utility. It should, at least, be regulated for security by the government. BUT NOT CONTROLLED BY 45!
    Like (51)
    Follow
    Share
    The nine most frightening words in the English language: “We are from the government, we’re here to help.”
    Like (34)
    Follow
    Share
    Privatization of Prisons-how’s that going? Privatization of Flint’s water-how’s that going? And more...For Profit...is Not for People’s best interest-History proves this Fact.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    Privatizing business almost always works better then if the government does it.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    This sounds like an opportunity for big business to once again collect tax payer money to operate their own equipment... they have built the networks on their dime for the most part, if the network fails, that’s their loss... isn’t that how capitalism markets work... I think they should require 5G networks to be a regulated utility, and then the FCC should have competent, incorruptible leaders, to protect the public from private business price gouging... utopia sounding huh?
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    Quit trying to protect internet providers! The government should certainly have the option if the circumstances are appropriate. The internet should already be regulated as a public utility. Access to the internet is vital in the world we live in.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    Centralizing and nationalizing are steps you take if you want to slam the emergency brakes onto the only economic engine in world history that has been able to cut global poverty in half in the last two decades - capitalism and the free market. Anyone claiming that government taking control of something will help you, or will help anyone besides the government alone, is either lying or uninformed, but either way is no friend to you.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Less federal control over domestic issues is always a good thing.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    The president doesn’t have a constitutional right to make those decisions without the approval of Congress.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    The federal government needs to stay out of this
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    The less control & regulation by the government in our lives, the better. And this one is just ripe for them screwing up!
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    YES. Don’t even think about it.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    👎🏻👎🏻 E-FRONTIER Act 👎🏻👎🏻 I OPPOSE This bill — known as the Eliminate From Regulators Opportunities to Nationalize the Internet In Every Respect Act (E-FRONTIER Act) — would prohibit the president or a federal agency from nationalizing 5G networks without authorization from Congress. It would also require the Comptroller General to conduct a security analysis of threats facing U.S. broadband networks from American adversaries. A government-run 5G network could potentially be more secure and cheaper for consumers than a privately- run network. By centralizing all efforts towards building a national 5G network, the government would also be able to reduce the inevitable duplication of effort and infrastructure that would occur if all the major cellular carriers built their own 5G networks independently. 8*18*18 ..... SneakyPete.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Nationalizing industries is typically something socialist, or communist countries do. Last time I checked we were not living under either of those economic systems.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Since the US government has not nationalized any other utilities what this bill is really attempting to do is stop any regulations that might put the public interest above profits. The danger of this is that sometimes there are things that are more important than money, like national security and civil liberties. This bill relies on fear to take an extreme stance that private profit is always good and should be allowed without any limitations. Private profit can drive innovation, but taken too far leads to a destructive greed. Wireless networks and the internet need to be treated like utilities, which the US government does not nationalize. The wireless industry has been asking for government support in building a 5g network, but now they want to make sure there are no regulations to go along with it? Government support with no regulations is extreme; whereas, regulations in line with a utility is the middle reasonable ground. Support innovation, but not at the expense of national security and civil liberties.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    The answer to any question that begins with, "Should the Federal Government be prohibited from", is yes. The Federal Government has gone far beyond it's constitutional mandates. Only a convention of the States has any real hope of reining in the bloated Federal bureaucracy! So, yes they should be prohibited from nationalizing anything!
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    No. If net neutrality is destroyed, having a government funded high speed alternative will force the greedy telecom companies to provide a higher level of service for a fair price. This is just like how the public healthcare option would have kept the insurance companies in check. And of course the Republiklans were against that as well.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Anything drafted by Senator Cruz is garbage!
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE