- Published: 05 July 2018 05 July 2018
AT&T just hired Margaret Peterlin — who was an aide for Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — as senior vice president, global external and public affairs. T-Mobile hired Trump's tech guy, Jeff Eisenach, for analysis backing the Sprint deal. Jeff is a skilled economist who can always make an argument that reads well in a policy brief.* I don't know the actual numbers here, but the best-placed lawyers and DC advocates bill out at well over $1,000/hour. Peterlin's job presumably pays well into the $millions.
That's typical D.C. behavior, where we have the best Congress money can buy.
Former U.S. Solicitor-General Ted Olsen declined the role of defending Donald Trump in the Mueller investigation, despite his strong ties to the Republican Party. But as a Washington lawyer-for-hire, Olsen is happily opposing the FCC de facto ban of Huawei through rules on universal service purchases.
Like most lobbyist filings, it's mostly hyperbole.
Olsen and colleagues were not hired for their ability to understand the issues and make the facts clear.
"It will potentially devastate the ability of carriers receiving USF support to continue to provide service to millions of Americans in rural and other high-cost areas, as explained in the attached declarations. Many carriers have built and now maintain their networks with equipment and services provided by companies targeted by the proposed rule. Much of that investment has been made recently to bring networks from 2G and 3G to 4G and to prepare for the transition to 5G. These carriers simply cannot afford the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to replace and rebuild their networks using only equipment and services from a new list of approved providers. Some carriers will go out of business as a result; others will struggle to survive. The many Americans who depend on these carriers, mostly in rural and remote areas, will either be forced to help subsidize the massive costs of rebuilding—or will lose their access to telecommunications services entirely."
There's a bridge to Brooklyn these guys might want to buy. Actually, most of the Huawei gear in the U.S. has gone to a few small carriers. Even carriers with as few as 20,000 homes had a direct government intervention when word got around they were considering purchasing from Huawei. (I was there.)
The carriers made the sensible request that support and upgrades on existing equipment be allowed, so that they do not have to replace their gear.
Americans should be very careful criticizing other governments, and not just because of Trump.
Thanks yet again to Mike Dano at Fierce for pointing me to the brief. Mike has emerged as the best reporter covering the telecom industry in the U.S. He breaks more stories than the NY Times and the Washington Post combined. My story went in an entirely different direction than his, however.
*The T-Mobile brief breaks apart if you research the sources it is based on. They seem reputable but the work is obviously unsound. I wish I had time to write that article.
Neville Ray did a brilliant job on the tech part of the filing, including some of the most interesting details I've found about 4G & 5G as deployed in the U.S. I now understand and will report how the NR software upgrade can add 18% to 50% to mid-band performance. Even his own equipment suppliers couldn't justify that claim.
Unfortunately, Ray left out the fact that T-Mobile is already delivering 500 megabits with 4G LTE/LAA here in Manhattan and has ordered 25,000 more LTE cells to bring that speed across the country. That's faster than much of the 5G network they say they will build iff the deal goes through. Ray also left out the possibility of using the CBRS band, which they are already testing. He assumed that T-Mobile would not acquire any of the C-Band spectrum going to auction. He compared a far future network to one already out-dated. The right comparison is between what T-Mobile would build with and without the merger; they are little different.
Ray and team have done an absolutely extraordinary job bringing T-Mobile's service up to the quality of Verizon and AT&T. I have no doubt he will be able to continue doing so if the deal is blocked.