Axios: Trump administration is considering nationalizing 5G mobile network

Axios: Trump administration is considering nationalizing 5G mobile network

On Sunday, a senior official in President Trump's administration confirmed that the U.S. government is exploring ways to counter various perceived security threats - and the development of a 5G network, containing parts manufacturered in China, is believed to be among them.

A PowerPoint presentation and memo obtained by Axios argue that a centralized 5G system would be easier to protect from cyberthreats.

The first option says the government can pay for and build the single 5G network, without the consultation of private companies.

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. The documents say one of the "pros" of this plan is "less commercial disruption" to the wireless industry than the first plan. The report claimed that now there is some debate over whether the government pays for and owns the network, or whether carriers will be asked to form a consortium and build the network. Access to the network would then be rented to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. In addition, the government must make sure the Chinese are not taking over the market and putting out of business every non-5G network.

The reasoning behind building such a network as part of a sort of cyber war is to construct a secure network dedicated to Internet traffic for new, more sensitive technologies, such as self-driving vehicles and virtual reality.

Any 5G plan would require FCC approval, leaving the future of the Trump administration proposal in serious doubt. The FCC regulates the nation's airwaves and auctions them off to phone, cable and broadcasting companies for use in networks. The document compares the push to President Dwight Eisenhower's interstate highway system, including using national security concerns to overrule state and local decisions on where to place network infrastructure.

The wireless industry expects 5G networks to launch in 2020.

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Earlier this month, AT&T had been expected to announce it would make available Chinese-based phone maker Huawei's flagship Mate 10 Pro smartphone on its network in the USA, but the plan was scrapped, reportedly because of US pressure on AT&T to cut ties.

For example, the company built two data centers in Zimbabwe after the country got a $98m loan from China Export-Import Bank.

Conway told USA TODAY the legislation was meant to fend off Chinese government infiltration into US networks.

Should the plan move ahead - something that is by no means guaranteed, with more talks expected over the next six to eight months before it is considered by the President - it could find favor among allies.

Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T have made strides in testing 5G networks.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, said in a statement Monday that the federal government should not build and operate a nationwide 5G network. "Combined with aggressive pricing, diplomatic support, and suspected payments to local officials, Huawei has quickly taken market share in the radio infrastructure market as well as optical and routing, leaving them poised to take market leadership of 5G".

Building a centralised and nationwide 5G network would involve numerous discussions regarding impact on market mechanism and government expenditure, according to Kelly Hsieh, a research director at consultancy TrendForce. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.

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