FCC Commissioner Carr accuses FAA of ‘disinformation campaign’ on 5G

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Republican-affiliated FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr took part in the podcast hosted by veteran conservative US broadcaster Glenn Beck to talk about 5G.

Beck started by asking if a key feature of 5G is to offer a bigger data channel and ubiquitous connectivity. Carr pushed back and said the pipe was not getting bigger, but data was being transferred more efficiently and therefore faster. It is unclear why he would make such a correction when he must know that many more frequencies are used by 5G than with previous generations. He then concurred with the assumption that with 5G data is essentially a bit more compressed.

Asked about the implications for the security of anything connected, Carr turned away from U.S. action against Chinese companies, alleging that China is using 5G infrastructure as part of its belt and road strategy. They then moved on to C-band aircraft safety publish, which both men lament as a personal goal when it comes to competing with China in telecommunications.

Carr lamented the actions of organizations like the Federal Aviation Administration, which he says are exploiting a weak administration with a “misinformation campaign” about the effects of 5G over C-band on aircraft safety systems.

They then discussed standard low-latency use cases for 5G, such as remote robotic surgery, before thinking about the pros and cons of the metaverse. This prompted Carr to voice concerns about the power of some giant internet companies and the word being spoken about it. Additionally, he felt compelled to note the growing collaboration between big tech and big government and the disturbing historical examples of what this sort of thing is leading to.

The theme of excessive power from big tech companies persisted, and Carr chose to illustrate it by saying that smartphones, even when turned off, use barometric sensors to track everything you do and send it back to the platform owner. For more on this stuff, we’ve embedded another recent podcast below, which featured an expert on the power of companies like Google to track user behavior.

One thing that was clear from the start was the political partisanship of the FCC commissioners. Carr was unashamed of his bias in favor of the Republican Party, and therefore 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 what it wants, minority-affiliated FCC commissioners seem to exist only to express futile dissent on fait accompli decisions.

But while Carr is partisan and made some dubious claims in this conversation, that doesn’t mean they lack merit. Is the FAA and the wider US airline industry involved in a misinformation campaign about 5G over C-band and, if so, why? We also explored this question towards the end of our own most recent podcast. Either way, the fact that one of the five FCC commissioners is taking such a strong public stance on the issue suggests that the prospects for a compromise solution are slim.

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