The Verge: Why the hell is the ‘race to 5G’ even a race?

Good point, well made by The Verge’s Nilay Patel. Why do people refer to the development and proliferation of 5G as a “race”?

[T]he stakes of this supposed race are wholly unclear. What happens if we win, besides telecom execs getting slightly richer? More importantly, what are the drawbacks to coming in second, or even third? Where is the list of specific negative outcomes of China building a 5G network a month, a year, or even five years before the United States? I’ve never seen it, and I keep asking about it.

Patel argues, convincingly, that the race is a construct – a way to create an atmosphere of urgency that means legislation is passed quicky, infrastructure is installed immediately, and consumers are charged as soon as possible:

This race is imaginary bullshit. It’s being foisted on us by huge telecom companies that know internet access is fundamentally a commodity and want something new to sell at high prices instead of competing to improve service and lower prices on the networks they have. After all, the United States “won” the “race” for LTE, but it bears repeating: our LTE networks are among the slowest in the world, and our prices among the highest. What did winning that race accomplish for the millions of people across the country that still can’t get a reliable LTE signal?