Trump Administration Considers Nationalized 5G Network

by Wade Massey January 30, 2018, 1:02
Trump Administration Considers Nationalized 5G Network

The US federal government is exploring the idea of building its own 5G wireless network infrastructure, according to documents obtained by Axios. While Axios ascribes it to "a senior National Security Council official", it could be a war games-type brainstorming exercise, a starting point for discussion, or a serious policy proposal. The first is that the government build and pay for a single 5G network, and the second is that wireless providers build their own networks to create competition.

However wireless providers have already bought much of the spectrum in preparation for a 5G network and it is not clear whether there is enough left for the United States government to use.

One option would be for the U.S. government to pay for and build the network, another would be to rent access to services provided by existing carriers. The best way to do this, the memo argues, would be for the government to build a network itself.

Apart from providing faster connectivity and ubiquitous coverage, 5G is expected to serve as the wireless platform to support driverless cars, smart transportation systems, cloud computing and other businesses yet to be developed. In the first option, the USA government would pay for and build a single network, which in fact would mean the nationalisation of a historically private infrastructure.

But nationalizing the construction of new wireless infrastructure - formerly handled by competing companies in the tech and telecom industries - would represent an unprecedented shift from the private sector to the government.

The Trump administration has taken a harder line with China on policies initiated by predecessor President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on issues ranging from Beijing's role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire US strategic industries.

According to "sensitive" documents obtained by Axios, the USA is looking at the possibility of building a national 5G network amid growing concerns about China. It would then rent access to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, it said.

"We will improve America's digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G internet capability nationwide", Trump said.

Three of the other four FCC commissioners also said Monday they oppose nationalizing the 5G network. He countered with a suggestion for the federal government to make more wireless spectrum available to commercial carriers to expand the 5G network. "Industry standards have been set (and) trials have been underway since 2016". "I plan to do everything in my power to provide the necessary resources, including allocating additional spectrum and preempting barriers to deployment, to allow this private sector success to continue".

The Trump administration's 5G plan comes on the heels of the scuttled smartphone distribution deal in the USA between Huawei Technologies and AT&T because of United States security concerns.

AT&T Senior Executive Randall Stephenson (R) explains to President Donald Trump how the 5G will be deployed in cities during the American Leadership in Emerging Technology Event in the East Room of the White House June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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