The Trump administration is planning to take control of a centralized 5G network, a move that will protect the United States against China.
The proposal was reported by Axios, which said that it acquired a PowerPoint presentation and memo that were produced by a senior official of the National Security Council and presented to other senior officials of other agencies in the administration of President Donald Trump.
Trump Administration Pushes For Federal 5G Network
In the materials acquired by Axios, the message is clear: America needs a government-controlled, centralized, nationwide 5G network within the next three years.
According to the documents, there are two options. The first one is that the United States government foots the bill in building the 5G network, which Axios described as "an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure." The network will then be rented out to the country's carriers.
The second option is to push wireless providers to put up their own 5G networks, which will compete with one another. This option, however, will take a longer time and cost more, though it will result in "less commercial disruption" to the telecommunications industry compared to the U.S. government building a network.
The second option, according to a source familiar with the drafting of the documents, is not really being considered, though. To protect the United States against China and other bad actors, a single centralized 5G network is what is needed. The source added that the debate within the White House is now whether the U.S. government will own and build the 5G network or if the country's carriers will be asked to set aside their business goals to form a consortium that will build the infrastructure.
Backlash Against Government-Owned 5G Network
"We want to build a network so the Chinese can't listen to your calls," said a senior administration official. He added that the country needs a secure network that will prevent the infiltration of bad actors and that there is a need to ensure that the Chinese do not take over the 5G market and put all other non-5G networks out of business.
The plan, however, is already receiving backlash from regulators and players in the wireless industry. One of the opponents of the proposal is FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by Trump under his administration.
"Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future," Pai said.
The development of 5G technology is certainly important as the next phase in wireless technology, with carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon all locked in a race to harness it. However, its future in the United States still remains cloudy, as it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will indeed push for a government-owned 5G network in the name of security.