Trump Administration Presentation Suggests Federally Controlled 5G Network
Monday, January 29, 2018 | Comments

Trump Administrations officials are considering a plan for a government-controlled 5G network, while FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said he opposes any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.

Trump Administration slides, titled “Secure 5G: The Eisenhower National Highway System for the Information Age,” called out Chinese telecom company Huawei and said a federally controlled 5G network could counter China in the information domain.

American benefits include security, prosperity, an arena of allied cooperation with other nations and information for American success, according to the slides. The slides cite three major decisions necessary to move forward, including what type of network should be built, what spectrum should be used and whether siting requirements can be standardized. The slides also ask whether telecom manufacturing can be rebuilt in the U.S. and whether allies and partners will join the U.S. effort.

Two network options are outlined. The first includes the U.S. building a network and leasing time back to carriers to sell as a service. The second would see carriers build and own the network based on 100-megahertz spectrum blocks.

President Donald Trump unveiled his national security strategy in December. The strategy included this statement: “We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G internet capability nationwide.”

The timeline in the slides would see project launch in 2021.

Pai released a statement opposing any such 5G plan.

“The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades — including American leadership in 4G — is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,” Pai said. “What government can and should do is to push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure. 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.”

Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the House Energy Committee, agreed with Pai. “A government that can’t protect the data of its own employees, I struggle with the notion it’s going to run a complete architecture and network that will be hack-free," Walden said. "Nor do I think it’s in the best interest of the kind of culture and economy that we have here, that believes in capital investment from the private sector. ... Government taking it over, controlling it, is clearly not the way to go.”

Earlier this month, Trump signed two executive orders aimed at streamlining rural broadband deployment. Axios broke the 5G network story Jan. 28.

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