White House says it's not considering a national 5G network

  • White House says it's not considering a national 5G network

White House says it's not considering a national 5G network

In the documents, seen by Axios, a senior National Security Council official says that a centralized, government-controlled 5G network is needed to offer security against China.

In the presentation, two options were suggested: have the American government pay for and build a network, or have wireless providers build their own 5G networks.

The administration official who spoke to Reuters confirmed the gist of the Axios report and said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president.

CTIA, the trade group that represents AT&T, Verizon, Apple Inc, Sprint Corp and others, said in a statement the "government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the USA wireless industry to win the race to 4G". The memo notes that this option would take longer and cost more but that it would cause less commercial disruption to the industry.

But the proposal - which would run counter to the longstanding U.S. policy of relying on private telecom networks - drew immediate rebukes from the industry and even from United States regulatory officials.

The Trump administration's 5G plan comes on the heels of the scuttled smartphone distribution deal in the U.S. between Huawei Technologies and AT&T because of U.S. security concerns. The proposal also goes against numerous principles laid out by the current FCC chair, Ajit Pai, who has been a vigorous advocate of a "light-touch" approach to networks where the federal government backs off from subsidizing and regulating internet service providers.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE were the subject of a USA investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical US infrastructure.

The report comes amid signs of rising tension between the United States and China, which President Donald Trump has long criticized in discussions about global trade as a threat to U.S. jobs and economic prosperity.

"China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure", the PowerPoint presentation - titled "Secure 5G: The Eisenhower National Highway System for the Information Age"- states.

The federal government stepping in would "slam the brakes" on momentum to deploy 5G, argued Jonathan Spalter, chief of USTelecom trade association. "It's not clear a national strategy would yield a 5G network faster or by the memo's 3-year goal", the report by Axios also stated.

According to Axios, the government could either build its own high-speed mobile network and then charge carriers to use it or allow carriers to continue to build their own 5G networks.

AT&T, which recently announced plans to begin offering mobile 5G service in a dozen markets later this year, said in a statement that the industry is "already well down the road" to 5G.

"The U.S. wireless industry is already working on deploying 5G networks, with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, for example, investing heavily in this area". There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G and other nations are poised to win.