I missed the Kentucky Derby because my son was participating in another contest, the Little League Home Run Derby (Capitol Hill Edition), and it ran late.
He won it, by the way.
I am glad I missed the horse race in Louisville.
Nothing worse than having officials stepping in and declaring a winner other than the horse that actually won.
I don’t know horse-racing rules, so I don’t know if they made the right call.
I do know that having many strong horses in a race makes it much more exciting for the spectators and for the betters. It is even better for the horses because better competition makes everybody better.
I was thinking about the Kentucky Derby in the context of the race to better wireless internet service for the American people.
Plenty of folks who went to Churchill Downs to watch the ponies undoubtedly took ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to get there and back.
These ride-sharing services make it very convenient for folks who might have had a few too many mint juleps to get home safely and securely.
These services are made possible by a remarkable improvement in internet connectivity, especially with mobile devices and smart phones.
America won the race to 4G and that has helped our economy in many ways big and small.
But any horse that is going to be a consistent winner has to consistently improve its performance.
The next big thing in the global technology race is the transition to 5G.
5G, or the 5th Generation of Wireless Internet Service, promises to make everything connected to web one hundred times faster.
Those 5G speeds will promote the next generation of the Internet of things.
Think driverless cars, real telemedicine, faster drone service, and then think of companies or services that haven’t even been imagined yet. That’s the power of 5G.
A 2018 CTIA study estimated that nationwide 5G would create three million new jobs and grow the U.S. economy by $500 billion by 2024.
But to deliver on the promise of the Internet of Things requires substantial investment into 5G infrastructure.
There are two basic ways to spur on that investment.
One way is to have the government take over the industry, bring efficiencies to the system by squeezing out competitors, and by investing billions of taxpayers' dollars.
That’s what the Chinese are basically doing to win the race on 5G.
The other way is to promote greater competition in the private sector.
Right now, there are two big players (AT&T and Verizon) and two smaller players (TMobile and Sprint).
The two big players are investing in 5G, but they are also dabbling in other business lines, like television and digital media companies.
Nothing will focus their minds more than the arrival of a powerful third competitor. Right now, neither TMobile nor Sprint have enough capacity to win the race to 5G on their own.
That’s why they are looking to combine their forces (and their spectrum) through a merger.
It makes sense. Three strong competitors are a lot more exciting to watch than two strong competitors and two weak ones.
And when it comes to the 5G Derby, stronger competition means a stronger economy, more jobs and faster wage growth for the American people.
We are entering the homestretch for regulators as they review the different parameters of the proposed merger.
Let’s hope that they allow this transaction to get to the finish line in all due haste. Time’s a-wasting.
John Feehery is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates, Washington, D.C.’s top public affairs firm. He is also a frequent commentator on the political landscape, widely quoted around the country and often seen on such television programs as CNN’s The Situation Room, MSNBC’s Hardball, and Bloomberg Television’s Money and Politics. He is also a columnist for The Hill. His writing appears regularly on Political Storm.