Trump Administration Contemplates State-Run 5G Network

The Trump administration is said to be planning on developing a secure 5G network that could be placed under federal control. The idea, which reportedly came about due to concerns about competitions and cybersecurity threats from China, was immediately met with backlash from the FCC and the wireless industry.

Axios reported over the weekend that National Security Council officials released a memo stating the United States requires a centralized 5G network system in the next three years. The memo further outlined that the best choice would be for the government to finance and build the infrastructure before renting to telecommunication companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Officials from the White House have told Axios and Recode that the memo Axios reported on was an old and out of date one. However, two anonymous administration officials claimed that discussions about the proposed 5G network were still in the early stages.

The current administration is known for being concerned about the security and economic threats posed by superpower China. The Asian giant has been aggressive in its development of 5G and it seems the Trump government is wary that China might spy on American citizens and businesses.

The idea of an administration controlling the country's next-generation wireless system is unheard of, and the pushback from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was equally surprising, considering its chairman was an appointee of the president.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai quickly issued a statement opposing the “proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.” He further described the proposed endeavor as “a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

Pai also suggested that the government should instead “push spectrum” into the marketplace and put up regulations that would encourage private companies to develop and implement the next-gen system.

A group comprised of telecom industry's leaders like AT&T and Verizon also opposed the plan and said on Monday that a competitive marketplace is the way to ensure the country remains as a trailblazer in 5G technology.

5G technology is expected to provide even faster speeds and almost unlimited Internet capacity when compared to the previous iterations of the wireless technology. It's also essential for the further development of new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), self-driving cars, and virtual reality. AT&T and Verizon already finalized plans to introduce 5G service in limited sectors in 2018.