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FCC Commissioner Carr accuses FAA of ‘misinformation campaign’ over 5G

Republican affiliated FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr went on the podcast hosted by veteran conservative US broadcaster Glenn Beck to talk 5G.

Beck started by asking whether a key feature of 5G is to offer a fatter data pipe and ubiquitous connectivity. Carr pushed back and said the pipe isn’t getting fatter, but the data is transferred more efficiently and hence more quickly. It’s not clear why he would make such a correction when he must know lots more frequency is being used by 5G than with previous generations. He went on to concur with an assumption that with 5G the data is essentially just more compressed.

Questioned about the security implications of everything being connected, Carr deflected to the actions taken by the US against Chinese companies, alleging China is using 5G infrastructure as a component on its belt-and-road strategy. They then moved on to the C-band airplane safety issue, which both men bemoan as an own-goal when it comes to competing with China in telecoms.

Carr lamented the actions of organisations like the Federal Aviation Administration, which he reckons are exploiting a weak administration with a ‘misinformation campaign’ about the effects on 5G over C-band on airplane safety systems.

They moved on to discuss the standard 5G low-latency use-cases, such as remote, robotic surgery, before mulling the pros and cons of the metaverse. This prompted Carr to express concerns about the power certain giant companies have over the internet and speech expressed over it. Furthermore he felt compelled to note the increasing collaboration between big tech and big government and the worrying historical examples of where this sort of thing leads.

The theme of the excessive power of big tech companies persisted and Carr chose to illustrate it by claiming smartphones, even when switched off, use barometric sensors to track everything you do and send it back to the platform owner. For more on that sort of thing we’ve embedded another recent podcast below, which featured an expert on the power of companies like Google to track its users’ behaviour.

One thing that was clear from the start was how politically partisan FCC Commissioners are. Carr was completely unashamed about his bias in favour of the Republican party, and thus of the previous administration over the current one. Just as the adversarial parliamentary system amounts to a numbers game in which the majority always gets its way, so minority affiliated FCC Commissioners seem to exist solely to voice futile dissent about fait accompli decisions.

But while Carr is partisan and made some questionable claims in this conversation, that doesn’t mean they lack merit. Is the FAA and the broader US airline industry involved in a misinformation campaign about 5G over C-band and, if so, why? We also explored this matter towards the end of our own most recent podcast. Regardless, for one of the five FCC Commissioners to take such a strong public position on the matter suggests the prospects of a compromise solution are slim.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar John Grant 24/01/2022 @ 4:06 pm

    “Is the FAA and the broader US airline industry involved in a misinformation campaign about 5G over C-band and, if so, why?”

    From what I’ve seen (and I don’t have any inside knowledge) the answers are (1) yes (2) because they (or anyway Boeing) have built radar altimeters with rubbish front ends that are affected by transmissions 200MHz away from their band, and don’t want to incur the cost of replacing them.

  2. Avatar JE Murdock III 25/01/2022 @ 5:53 pm

    The Commissioner should adopt the normal agency leadership technique of staying silent until all the facts are known. No conspiracy here, no incompetence of a peer federal agency, but an Administrator who take his safety mission seriously. Once the FCC and the two carriers gave access to the 5G data in sufficient detail, the FAA quickly exercised it safety review and began approving aircraft (now 78% plus) for low visibility flights. Sad that a Presidential appointee brings the Trump “everything I don’t like of understand” tendency to high level policy discourse. The irony is that a Trump advocate would take a “if it’s OK in Europe, must be okay here” position.

  3. Avatar Dr.-Ing. Shailendra K. Hajela 26/01/2022 @ 7:06 pm

    5G in C band per se is OK. The issue has arisen by allocation of 3.7 – 3.98 GHZ in C band for 5G which is not identified for IMT (5G) services as per ITU Radio Regulations, determined on Harmonization considerations.

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