On Confronting China’s Coronavirus Propaganda and Huawei, and Boosting America-Led 5G: FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr

By Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
April 23, 2020 Updated: April 24, 2020

Just how does challenging Chinese Communist Party officials on Twitter fit into Brendan Carr’s job as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)?

Why is Huawei-built 5G a major data security threat? What steps are being taken to boost America-led 5G development?

And how are telehealth and telemedicine being rapidly expanded during this coronavirus pandemic?

In this episode, we sit down with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, who previously served as General Counsel of the FCC and chief legal advisor to the Commission.

This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Brendan Carr, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Commissioner Brendan Carr: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr, I’m actually just going to read quickly from the mission of the FCC: The FCC regulates interstate and international communication by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. That is what the FCC does, but you’re taking a bit of an unusual role here as an FCC Commissioner. You’ve actually been challenging some of the propaganda officers, the top propaganda officers of the Chinese Communist Party. I think most of our viewers will be familiar with your tweeting at the Foreign Ministry spokesperson of China, Hua Chunying, asking about the whereabouts of the various whistleblowers that have exposed the reality of coronavirus, or CCP virus as we call it, back in the day. I’m wondering, have you actually heard anything back? Have you actually had a chance to speak with any of these whistleblowers?

Commissioner Carr: The only thing I’ve heard back from the chief propagandist of the Communist Party is they blocked me on Twitter. So I was able to stand up another Twitter account I use solely to keep track of the chief propagandists and the information they put out. At the FCC, as you point out, we have a pretty broad mandate and that includes regulating the media. I think it’s important that we always send a clear signal whether to our own media here in the U.S. or across the world, that we stand strong for free speech and not having the government interfere with the free flow of information.

Mr. Jekielek: The top of this Tweet thread that went viral that you did, there was a kind of a call for cooperation that was referenced. What do you think “cooperation” means when the Chinese Communist Party folks say it?

Commissioner Carr: I think we have a lot of questions that have come up in the last few weeks, in particular about the role that the Communist Party played in exacerbating the coronavirus. Right now, they’re in the midst of a global campaign to try to secure and solidify their image. So on the one hand, their chief propagandists are out there saying, “Everyone’s welcome to China; speak freely with anybody you find in the street.” At the same time, they are literally disappearing citizen journalists, hero doctors, that have the courage to stand up and speak the truth. So I think we all need to shine a light on that. It is always appropriate. it’s always the right time to speak truth to the communists that are running that regime because frankly, the Chinese people are the ones that are most directly and most often brutalized by the communist regime. So I think we should all stand up for them when they have the courage to stand up to these brutal communist leaders.

Mr. Jekielek: When we spoke earlier, you mentioned to me that you’ve actually learned a lot through this whole coronavirus pertinent to your job. And I’m wondering if you could dig into that a little bit?

Commissioner Carr: At the end of 2016, as we rolled into 2017, the U.S. at the top levels of government realized that we needed to take a fundamentally different approach to China. You see that on the trade front and you see that where I work here at the FCC. We’ve taken a number of targeted actions to secure the U.S. telecom networks from entities that are ultimately controlled by the Communist Party. So for one, we took action against Huawei and ZTE, two companies that we determined were too tightly controlled by the Communist Party, and we’ve now prohibited them from adding their subsidized gear into U.S. telecom networks based on a security threat. We have taken action to prohibit China Mobile, a wireless company, one of the largest in the world, again, ultimately controlled by the communist regime, from connecting to the U.S. network here. And just a week or two ago, the Department of Justice reached the conclusion that the FCC should revoke the authority of China Telecom which currently connects to our network. So I think there’s a really strong connection here, which goes to the trustworthiness of companies that are ultimately beholden to the Communist Party. It’s not simply enough necessarily to be based in China, but when we have evidence of significant ties in coordination with the Communist Party itself, that gives rise to very serious concerns. And again, we see it the last few weeks with the regime willing to do anything, (including to) disappear people, to protect their global political agenda.

Mr. Jekielek: What is the exact concern, say with China Telecom, which you are exploring right now? What is the status of that at this point?

Commissioner Carr: So the Department of Justice has recommended that we take action, I think we’ll be moving in short order to do just that; show cause order to give China Telecom an opportunity to make a case as to why they shouldn’t be kicked out of our network. There’s a lot of concerns. One of them is this: If you are connected to the U.S. telecom network, there can be data that’s going from L.A., for instance, to Washington, D.C. But China Telecom or another carrier insert themselves in the path of that data, reroute it—we’ve seen evidence of this—back through China to do who knows what with that data, before it’s delivered. L.A.-Guangzhou-D.C. route is not the most direct route for sending traffic from L.A. to D.C. So that gives cause for serious concern.

Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned Huawei earlier, and the actions the FCC has taken on Huawei. We’re getting reports lately that the UK is going to do a “U-turn.” They were going to embrace Huawei; it looks like that might change. Perhaps it was due to Boris Johnson’s near-death experience [being infected with coronavirus]. What would you recommend to them based on what you know about Huawei now?

Commissioner Carr: Those of us at the FCC and the State Department have been engaged for years with our counterparts in Europe, in Africa, in South America, telling them our position on Huawei. When you look at the actual cost of this Huawei gear in terms of the security to your country’s network, whatever expenses you save on the front end, from the fact that China can produce this hardware cheaply through slave labor, and through theft of IP (intellectual property), in the long run it’s not going to be worth it. And so I’ve been very heartened to see some of the recent news out of the UK. To your point, they are making a U-turn, and Boris Johnson appears ready to change course and not allow Huawei gear, at least not allowed at the same level that he did before, and I think that’s a really good step in the right direction. You’ll probably remember the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher had that great speech where she said, “The lady is not returning.” And in this case, I think it’s a good thing that the “lady is returning.” So I’m glad to see that.

Mr. Jekielek: Today, we’ve discussed China Mobile, China Telecom, ZTE, Huawei, all problematic companies in terms of how they operate in the U.S. Are there any other companies that are of that scale that you’re looking at right now?

Commissioner Carr: So the FCC, as you point out, is taking action against Huawei, ZTE. We’ve also taken action against China Mobile. In the near future, we’ll be reaching a decision on China Telecom. There’s a handful of other companies that are similarly situated to China Telecom, meaning entities that may or may not have some relationship with a communist regime in China that are currently attached to the U.S. telecom network. I’ve called on the FCC and for the national security agencies to take a look at each and every one of those companies, effectively to do a top-to-bottom review of all companies that may be owned or controlled by the communist regime. And we’ve been engaged in that effort, and I believe the security agencies have as well. So China Telecom may just be one of many more actions that the FCC is going to take to secure our networks.

Mr. Jekielek: What scenario can you imagine where a prominent Chinese company would not be beholden to the Communist Party of China?

Commissioner Carr: It’s a good question. There’s this law in China that effectively, under at least our reading of it here in the U.S., requires almost any company that’s based in China to do the bidding of the communist regime when push comes to shove. But my view at the FCC is it’s not enough standing alone to be a company that is based in China. There needs to be some sort of plus factor. That’s what all of our reviews have taken a look at. Not only are you based in China, but what are the ties and relationships to the communist regime? And that’s why we engage in due process, and we let China Telecom and other companies tell us: Yes, of course we’re based in China, but no, we have this structural separation, we have these other provisions, that mean, we will not be beholden to the communist regime. And we are open to hearing those arguments out in every case and making our decision based on the facts as they arise.

Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr, when we were speaking offline, I was fascinated to learn that everything that you are doing on Twitter is actually pertinent to your job. And I’m wondering if you could speak to that.

Commissioner Carr: What we’re called to do with the FCC increasingly, is to look at the threat and the potential threat to U.S. telecom networks of entities that may be owned and controlled by the communist regime in China. So at the core, the question we have to ask ourselves is, one, about trustworthiness—if entities are in fact ultimately pulled into the communist regime. Well, I think what we’ve seen over the last few weeks into the steps that they’re willing to take, from disappearing people to lying about basic information about COVID-19, is highly relevant to the regulatory decisions that I have to make at the FCC in terms of the trustworthiness of these entities and whether they should in fact be connecting to the U.S. telecom network.

Mr. Jekielek: Since you’ve taken this very prominent position voicing your mind, have you gotten any pressure behind the scenes from anyone?

Commissioner Carr: No, thankfully. We obviously live in a very free country. Other than being blocked on Twitter by the chief propagandists, there have not been any repercussions to me personally, so I’m very safe and secure to continue to speak my mind. I think our relationship with China, for a long time, it was a hotly debated issue among foreign policy circles in D.C. And I think for the first time, maybe ever, the consequences of the oppressive communist regime are spilling outside the dusty pages of foreign policy trade magazines, into the living rooms of everyday Americans.

Right now, so many people are out of work, their kids are out of school, because of the oppressive nature of the communist regime—their inability to come forward with the truth early enough with respect to the coronavirus. Their continuing disinformation about it in terms of their own deaths, in terms of the contagion level of this virus, has exacerbated [the pandemic]. And so I think for the first time, Americans outside of this traditional foreign policy circle are feeling, very directly, very personally, the impacts of this communist regime, and I don’t think we can afford to go back to a weak and timid foreign policy that was really the standard in D.C., not just for Obama-Biden, but going back beyond that on a bipartisan basis. So I think we are, for the first time, showing real strength, and the value and merit of doing that is being shown, I think, to every American right now.

Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned that of course one of the FCC rules is to regulate the media. How do you treat these propaganda organs of the Chinese Communist Party like Xinhua, China Daily, and so forth?

Commissioner Carr: My position is always more speech; not less. So there’s some people, for instance, that say Twitter should de-platform. He’s chief propaganda, so they don’t have Twitter as a platform to speak, or to your point, take action against other outlets that either come to the U.S. or spread their message in the U.S. That’s not my view. My view is let’s fight speech with more speech. And that’s why it’s so important that I don’t stay silent on these issues, and I encourage all of my colleagues and everyone who has a platform to speak up. There is nothing that a communist dislikes more than the truth spoken freely. I think we all have an obligation to do that.

Mr. Jekielek: The State Department has actually labeled a number of these Chinese media companies that work for the state as agents of the Chinese government, or the regime, essentially something equivalent to a mission. Are you a supporter of labeling these state propaganda media differently than free media?

Commissioner Carr: I have no problem obviously with the State Department’s approach and happy to facilitate that to the extent that we’re just providing people more information and more context. I do think one interesting thing to consider—again, my view is “more speech is better than less speech”—when you have these chief government officials, like the chief propagandist of China, who has blocked an untold number of people from seeing his Twitter feed, myself included, I wonder whether that’s something where some of these platforms should step in and say, “If you’re going to be using our platform to spread your propaganda or your government message, you should not be able to block people selectively from seeing that message.” Again, I think that’s a decision that would be up to the platform itself to make, but I’d be supportive of some sort of inquiry along those lines. As a government official myself, I don’t have anybody blocked from my Twitter account, so anybody can see what I say and they can provide their feedback directly to me.

Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr, something that’s been on my mind lately: You’re a fierce advocate of free speech hence the position you described moments ago. We’ve been facing questions about this on platforms. Specifically, we’ve had this film, “Tracking Down the Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus,” which has gone uber-viral across multiple channels, multiple platforms. And on Facebook via one of their “science fact-checkers”—I say that in quotes because we’re disputing everything they found—they’ve labeled it now as “partially false. After we push back, hopefully we’ll get this resolved. But the point is that people on Facebook are being restricted at this moment from viewing this documentary which explores a whole range of possibilities around the realities from China. What are your thoughts around this new phenomenon of “fact-checking” on platforms?

Commissioner Carr: I wrote an op-ed on this that was in the Wall Street Journal, and the thesis behind this op-ed is this term: “Disinformation” is the new disinformation. What I mean by that is people are taking the label “disinformation” and they’re placing it on political speech they don’t like, and trying to convince people that it is disinformation or false, when what’s really happening is the “fact-checkers” are just disagreeing with a political message that’s being sent out there. I think here’s why we’re seeing it: With internet platforms, you can take your message directly to the people, you can go around traditional and established media gatekeepers, and those gatekeepers are feeling the effects of being sidelined. So now, they’re taking this concept of “disinformation” and “fact-checking”, and putting it on top of, not false speech, but speech they don’t like and speech they don’t disagree with.

So I’ve put an idea out there. It’s called, “Turning off the bias filters”, and here’s what it would do: If you have a platform like Facebook or Twitter, rather than having a third party “fact-check” your feed for you, you as a user should be able to turn that “fact-check” off. So for instance, if you want Fox News to be reviewing and fact-checking everything in your feed before you view it, great, you can turn that on. If you want MSNBC to be reviewing and fact-checking everything before you see it, and putting filters over documentaries, great, have at it. But I don’t think that’s a decision that the platform should be making for us. I think it’s an approach that would lead to less regulation and an approach that will lead to more speech. So I think we should turn off those bias filters, turn off those “fact-checks”, because as you’re seeing, this is really about value judgments. Because what people don’t realize when they call for censorship, or call for taking videos down or putting screens up over it, these aren’t decisions made from some oracle of truth—these are people. These are people that are either fallible or they’re people with political agendas, and that’s why my position is always “more speech; not less speech.”

Mr. Jekielek: Speaking of free speech, when we look at the Chinese Communist Party and the reality in China, inside China of course, the reality is the antithesis of free speech. What are the costs of that for Americans in a broader sense?

Commissioner Carr: Well, we touch on this a little bit, but I think the everyday American is now feeling the consequence of that censorship. Think back again to the end of last year, December, and January, you had hero doctors that were sounding the alarm trying to tell the world about COVID-19, and the Communist Party of China clamped down on that immediately. They dragged these doctors from their homes in the dark of night, forced them to sign confessions retracting that information, and in many cases, have now disappeared those doctors and those journalists. That censorship directly exacerbated COVID-19, and it is something that is now impacting so many Americans. So this has moved beyond the theoretical, this has moved beyond foreign policy debate, and every American right now is feeling what it’s like when a regime cracks down on freedom and free speech.

Mr. Jekielek: What would you call on the Chinese regime to do at this time, then?

Commissioner Carr: Well, first and foremost, to shut down the disinformation campaign. And I think the WHO has a significant responsibility in what we’ve seen here. Unfortunately, the WHO, at least at the very top leadership has shown that they are nothing more than a mouthpiece for communist China’s propaganda. We all know that the data and numbers that the communist regime is putting out in terms of deaths both in Wuhan and across China are orders of magnitude below the actual numbers. And yet, the WHO is out there parroting those numbers and adding credibility to those numbers that just mislead the entire world, and slow down our response. There was a lead epidemiologist at the WHO who said that at the end of December, when she first saw the evidence coming out of China, she had the instinct that this was a human-to-human transmitted virus. Yet two weeks later, the WHO was still parroting the Communist Party’s position that there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. This is just a disaster for the WHO in terms of its credibility. So many people relied, or could have relied, on that information, and they showed that maintaining their relationship with a communist regime, and potentially funding from the communist regime, is more important than accurate information about health and safety. And that’s a shame.

Mr. Jekielek: We’re actually seeing, to this day, multiple governments around the world and platforms still taking the WHO information as Bible, so to speak. Given what we know, what should we be doing here?

Commissioner Carr: We know we can’t trust the data that’s coming out of the WHO, and I think the administration is right to look very closely at our relationship with the WHO; and our funding commitments to the WHO. The Communist Party itself is more embarrassed by the numbers it’s putting out there than the WHO. The Communist Party is walking back these false numbers, about 3,000 deaths, faster than the WHO. That should be a real, real embarrassment and reckoning for the WHO.

Mr. Jekielek: What is the FCC doing now in terms of helping with this whole coronavirus reality in the U.S.?

Commissioner Carr: The FCC has been engaged in an unprecedented level of activity to support the country’s response to COVID-19. More than ever before, Americans are depending on our internet infrastructure, whether it’s working from home, schooling our kids, or telehealth. We’ve been boosting network capacity. We’ve been adding millions of dollars of additional funding to support free connections in terms of hotspots and other devices to keep people online, we have a Keep Americans Connected Pledge to make sure that no one is cut off during the coronavirus, we’re actively monitoring the network in the U.S., and the US telecom infrastructure has been outperforming infrastructure in other parts of the world that are hit by COVID-19.

One piece I want to highlight in particular is telehealth. We’re seeing this new trend in health care that’s really the equivalent of shifting from Blockbuster Video to Netflix. What I mean by that is you don’t have to go to a brick and mortar facility anymore to receive high quality care. With apps and connected devices either right on your smartphone or tablet, you can do video visits with doctors; you can see dermatologists; you can do mental health, behavioral health counseling. So again, we are distributing healthcare now directly to patients. That’s so important right now with COVID-19 because you don’t want people going to brick and mortar facilities unless they need the level of care provided there, so we stood up in a matter of days, an entirely new initiative to fund and support that trend towards Connected Care. We’ve already been making funding commitments to help build out that.

Mr. Jekielek: What does that look like? Are these basically prospective telehealth providers, or are they applying to you to become licensed? How does this work?

Commissioner Carr: We have healthcare facilities that apply to the FCC. For instance, I’ve got 200 patients with diabetes. I want to send them home with a connected blood glucose monitor and a tablet so that every morning, rather than coming to my facility, they can prick their finger in the morning, it’ll take your A1c level, transmitted directly to their tablet, and the tablet will automatically tell them: eat this today; don’t eat this; exercise this way. So they are maintaining their care, getting really good care, without having to go to a brick and mortar facility to see someone in person or get their A1c level in person. There’s a range of conditions—heart disease; fetal monitoring for high risk pregnancies; opioid dependency; we can do these mental and behavioral health counseling. I really think that this is the future of healthcare, and so I’m glad that we at the FCC are supporting it. And frankly, HHS has been cutting red tape to make sure from a licensing and reimbursement perspective, we support this new trend in healthcare. It’s going to drive down costs and it’s going to improve patient outcomes.

Mr. Jekielek: What percentage of visits does this affect, compared to what would typically be happening?

Commissioner Carr: It covers a range of different conditions. I’ll answer it this way: So, chronic disease management accounts for probably 85% of all direct health care spending in this country, and that’s the exact types of conditions that you can treat much more effectively by constantly monitoring it at home through Connected Care. I’ve been in a lot of parts of this country—rural areas. I’ve met with people who had really bad diabetes and simply stopped going to the doctor because they didn’t want to drive an hour to the facility, and their numbers got worse. I’ve seen them get put on these Connected Care technologies where they can do it from home, and their numbers come down; they feel a lot better. So I think it’s a really big savings and a good improvement, particularly for rural America where we have a doctor divide. They don’t have the specialists; they don’t have the access to even generalists that you do in more populated parts of the country.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s absolutely fascinating and I think a lot of Americans are going to be very excited to hear that this is happening. How quick to implementation are we looking at right now?

Commissioner Carr: Very quick. Thankfully, we started this process at the FCC two years ago, seeing this new trend. When congress passed the CARES Act on a Friday, we voted on that Tuesday to stand up an order and stand up a program. And just at the end of last week, Thursday, we started moving money out the door and approving applications. So we really moved with unprecedented speed given the emergency. I’m really proud of the work that the FCC staff have been able to do. We have about 1,400, just under that, staff and they are dispersed right now. We’re not working from the FCC building right now. They’ve got a lot going on themselves with managing childcare or taking care of older parents, and in the midst of all that, they are cranking out a tremendous amount of valuable work product.

Mr. Jekielek: Very, very good to hear. Let’s jump back to 5G a little bit as we’re doing all this work from home these days. There’s actually this draft order that Chairman Ajit Pai has put out about the 5G spectrum and this Ligado Insights application, and what is the significance of that? It’s quite a big deal, actually. I wonder if you could give us a broader picture?

Commissioner Carr: We talked a little bit about how the internet right now is sustaining so much of this country’s activity from working from home; schooling our kids; telehealth. I think the internet is going to be one of the things that powers this country out of this downturn we’re seeing with COVID-19. I think the nation is going to emerge much stronger, much more prosperous, and so much of that is going to be built on the internet economy. In 2015 and 2016, we were at serious risk of ceding U.S. leadership and 5G to China. Back then, they were putting up new cell sites, which is what you need for 5G, at a much faster clip than us. They had more spectrum available, which is the oxygen for 5G, what all this will run on, than what we did at the FCC. We engaged in a significant turnaround, and the U.S. now has the strongest 5G platform in the world. We’ve done that by cutting red tape on the infrastructure side, so cell sites are going up at a much faster clip now than they were back then.

To your question [about] spectrum, we’ve now opened up more spectrum than any other country in the world. The most recent decision we’ve made on that, to your point, is this L band spectrum, which is mid-band spectrum, which can be prime use either for 5G or even Internet of Things applications. Now all five commissioners voted to approve that decision. And that’s one piece of probably a dozen or more spectrum bands that we’ve been getting across the finish line. So it’s a solid win. But it’s not the thing itself, that’s going to secure U.S. leadership. It is that plus all the other spectrum bands that we’ve freed up that are going to enable America’s innovators to build on this great 5G platform.

Mr. Jekielek: Are you saying that the U.S. now has everything it needs to compete with Huawei—which is, we argue strongly at the Epoch Times, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party and connected deeply with the Chinese military—to compete both in the U.S. and on an international stage?

Commissioner Carr: So we have leapfrog China up until now. If we rest on our laurels, they will swing from behind, and they’ll beat us again. So we need to continue pushing more spectrum to continue modernizing our infrastructure rules. And I’m confident we’re going to do that at the FCC. When you step back globally, to your point, you look at continents like Africa, South America, Huawei and China have deeply, deeply penetrated those countries. The market share that they have secured in terms of Huawei gear being built in these networks is staggering, 70~80% market share at this point.

Huawei is the digital portion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. What we’re seeing is they go in and load up these countries with debt and build new ports or new railroad systems. When the debt comes due, it can’t be paid. Then they repossess the ports and the railroads. Well, I’m afraid potentially, we could see that on the digital side. But the repossession is going to be your country’s data. That is very, very dangerous when you think about everything now that travels over these networks: power information, banking information, healthcare information. To some extent, it’s going to be tough to make inroads again in Africa, given how much market share that Huawei has.

But we’re doing a couple things to address the threat from Huawei. One, through trade negotiations. President Trump has cracked down on IP theft. That was a big reason why Huawei was able to get an advantage. Two, as I mentioned, at the FCC, we’ve now prohibited subsidized Huawei gear from going into the US telecom network. And three, we have an active proceeding where we’re looking at rip-and-replace. Meaning taking the Huawei gear out that did make it into the US network to compensate providers for that. And finally, there’s this new trend in 5G towards software-defined networks. 4G was built on these bespoke expensive pieces of hardware, where Huawei and Chinese manufacturers had an advantage; 5G is built more on software. When you compete on software, U.S. companies have an advantage. That’s another reason why some of the early advantage that Huawei had is now diminishing. That’s going to help boost U.S. leadership in 5G, [and] also result in secured networks.

Mr. Jekielek: This might be a little bit esoteric to some of our viewers. What does it actually mean that the more traditional networks were hardware-based, while the U.S. ones are software-based? What does that actually mean in practice?

Commissioner Carr: Think of it this way, instead of having five expensive pieces of hardware, each that did one particular function in the network and you had to buy all five of them, now you can have one piece of network. It can be software that runs the functions that would’ve been performed by the other pieces. In that respect, the software-driven networks are ones where the U.S. has an advantage. I think the security threat is real. I was up in Great Falls, Montana, just a couple hundred miles from the border of Canada. We have an Air Force Base there, Malmstrom Air Force Base. It’s where we keep about 150 intercontinental ballistic missiles. If you look out across this landscape, it is almost nothing there. It is blue-sky country; it is wheat fields, miles and miles, except for one thing. There are cell towers dotted throughout this missile field that are running on Huawei gear. There’s a lot of security threats that arise from the different devices and equipment that they’ve attached to these towers, and how Huawei might have access to that equipment and to the information that they can gather in those fields. This is a real threat that we take seriously. That’s why we’re looking at this rip-and-replace option to get that type of gear potentially out of the network.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s chilling when you describe this scenario. With 5G, a lot of people might not understand the implications of the idea that 5G is primarily a network for the things to talk to each other, for devices, and automobiles, and refrigerators, and phones, all to communicate with each other. So the people-to-people element is actually a pretty small piece of it. So the implications of that, given what you’re describing, are pretty staggering.

Commissioner Carr: You’re right, I think you’ve nailed it. If you think about the 4G network, what’s the most amazing thing about it? It’s our smartphone. The 4G network is custom-built to support smartphones and apps. The 5G network, to your point, the smartphone [can] be, to some extent, the least interesting part of that network. It’s going to be the Internet of Things, and everything that a 5G network enables. The way I describe to people [about] 5G is to tell them to think about their own life, 10 years ago, when we were shifting from 3G to 4G; think about how you got across town back then, you had to call a cab company or stand in a taxi line and pay exorbitant rates; think about all the trips you didn’t take. Now we have this entire app economy that was unleashed by 4G networks. You’re just a swipe away from being able to get Uber, Lyft, Via. That type of revolution is going to happen once again. It could be anything from grocery shopping. Right now, I hate grocery shopping, and with a pandemic is even more difficult. But imagine we have a 5G network, you can have VR goggles on your face, and you can virtually walk through your own grocery store where you know where things are, you can pick up a piece of fruit. With haptics, you can actually feel what that fruit feels like and see if you want to buy it. So it’s going to be transformative, but we’re only having just a glimpse of it today.

Mr. Jekielek: To your point, imagine now, the Chinese Communist Party having control and being able to insert itself into your grocery buying experience or something, that even in itself could be a very threatening thing.

Commissioner Carr: You’re right. If our 5G networks are insecure, every single thing that we value in life is going to be insecure. That’s why we’re taking such aggressive action at the FCC looking at Huawei, ZTE, China Mobile, looking at China Telecom; supporting this trend to software-based networks; to make sure that we have not just the best 5G platform, but the most secure platform as well.

Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Carr, this has been a fascinating, wide-ranging discussion. Any final words before we finish up?

Commissioner Carr: Thanks so much for having me. I think most importantly, when you look back at what’s happened in the last couple of years in this country starting in 2017, the U.S. signaled that it was time to take a fundamentally different approach to The Communist regime of China. You see that on the trade front and you see that where I work at the FCC, whether it’s Huawei, ZTE, securing the 5G network, or whether it’s exposing some of the lies that are being propagated by the Communist regime. We finally seized on a foreign policy that shows strength. It’s a movement away from the weak, timid approach we have in years past. I think that’s a good thing because so many Americans right now are feeling the impact of the oppressive Communist regime which exacerbated this spread of COVID-19.

Mr. Jekielek: Commissioner Brendan Carr, such a pleasure to have you on.

Commissioner Carr: Thanks for having me.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube and The Epoch Times website.

Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."