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Huawei Banished? Private Right-Wing Venture Wants to Fill The Space

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May 29, 2019

The business plan of a proposed 5G company, called Rivada Networks, would be dependent on a U.S. government contract that would give it access to unused Department of Defense bandwidth which it could then sell, splitting the profits with DOD. Rivada’s technology would grab unused bandwidth in real time, but would enable the DOD to take it back as needed, a feature enthusiastically described by Karl Rove as “ruthless preemption.” Rove is both a lobbyist and investor for Rivada, but the main man behind the project is Declan Ganley, whom this New Yorker article describes as “an enigmatic Irish businessman with an uncanny ability to spot markets before they materialize.” In this case, however, the proponents are also pitching the populist-cum-Trumpian implications of the venture. As Rove says, we are becoming a country divided between those that have access to high-quality broadband and those who don’t, and this company would bring it to a big component of those that don’t: Rural America. (A New York Time article notes that some existing or in-progress rural projects using existing Huawei equipment are already coming to a screeching halt.) The thrust of the New Yorker article is the more narrowly defined political implications of the Rivada venture: It notes that vocal supporters include Newt Gingrich and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and that a major investor is Silicon Valley billionaire and early Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Ganley, meanwhile, has been touting the company with a pitch that will surely resonate in the current climate: He says that by lowering prices it will “destroy the Chinese business model.” It will also, notes the New Yorker article, turn bandwidth into a new asset class that could be traded in a process called dynamic spectrum arbitration, for which Rivada hold patents.

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