Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a new report to be published later this week, former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler knocks down some popular misconceptions around 5G, the next generation of wireless network service.

Why it matters: The advent of 5G has been sold to the public as a global race, but that framing oversimplifies the issue and opens the door to nationalist pandering and special-interest promotions.

  • "5G has morphed from a stepwise logical progression of technology to a meme used for political goals," Wheeler told Axios.

The big picture: As we have been noting for a while, the so-called race to 5G is actually many competitions in one:

  • Which countries get to set the standards.
  • Who ends up building the equipment.
  • Where the first gear is placed.
  • Who has the first nationwide network.
  • Who develops the key apps that depend on 5G and drive its wide adoption, which is perhaps the most important race.

"The 5G discussion, with all its permutations and combinations, has grown to resemble an elementary school soccer game where everyone chases the ball, first in one direction, then another," Wheeler writes in the report, first seen by Axios.

Some of Wheeler's myth-busting arguments:

  • Security is about more than Huawei. Heavy focus on fears of skulduggery by Chinese vendors obscures the larger dangers inherent in 5G's design. "5G is a cybersecurity risk because the network is software-based," Wheeler writes. "Earlier networks' reliance on centralized hardware-based functions offered a security-enhancing choke point. Distributed software-based systems, per se, are more vulnerable."
  • The race isn't the whole game. As is often the case with a new "G," there's a lot of hype driven by competitors' drive to win "firsts." But for the moment, Wheeler reminds us, 5G is only here in a few places and with only part of the eventual benefits 5G will deliver. Some of its biggest advantages, such as ultra-low latency or battery efficient support for "internet of things" devices, will have to wait for later versions of the 5G standard.
  • Evolution vs. revolution. 5G actually represents both, according to Wheeler. One could build a network from scratch with all of the benefits of 5G, but that's not the approach that will dominate. Instead, most of the networks around the world will build on top of existing 4G networks, making the improvements more gradual but vastly more cost-efficient than starting from scratch.

Between the lines: Spectrum is a key, though rarely mentioned, differentiator among the international competitors.

  • Early deployments by U.S. carriers have largely focused on the "millimeter wave" band, with good reason: It's fast and plentiful. But such signals also travel only very short distances, making them practical mainly for densely populated cities.
  • Full 5G will also demand plenty of midband spectrum, and only Sprint has a big nationwide supply of that, thanks to its acquisition of Clearwire years ago.
  • While other countries have made lots of midband spectrum available, the U.S. has been slow to clear space. Wheeler cites wireless trade group CTIA as saying that on average, other countries have made 4 times as much midband spectrum available, with China offering up to 7 times as much as the U.S.

The bottom line: 5G is important, but it will be a marathon, not a dash, and everyone — consumers, regulators and the industry — would do well to heed its complexities without succumbing to politicization and marketing hype.

Go deeper: Axios deep dive on 5G

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
57 mins ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."