FCC chairman, wireless industry opposing government plan for 5G network

30 January 2018

US regulators and the wireless industry are opposing  a plan under discussion by the Trump administration to build a secure 5G network - possibly with government control as concerns about China and cybersecurity increase.

In a statement opposing government control, the Republican head of the Federal Communications Commission suggested that the wireless industry is best positioned ''to drive innovation and investment.''

"I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network,'' said FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by president Donald Trump. ''Any federal effort to construct a nationalised 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at yesterday's briefing that discussions are at an early stage. ''There's been absolutely no decision made other than the fact, the need for a secure network,'' Sanders said.

The wireless industry also appeared to be opposed to the plan with a leading trade group whose members include AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc saying yesterday that it sees a competitive marketplace as the best option for ensuring the US leads in 5G technology.

According to commentators, if the federal government were to directly participate in building a wireless network intended for commercial use, it will mark a departure from the decades-long tradition of auctioning licenses to telecommunications companies to build their own networks.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official said on Sunday that the president's national security team is looking at options to counter China, including the possibility of the US government building a super-fast 5G wireless network.

An official who confirmed the gist of a report from Axios.com, said the option of the government building a super-fastnetwork was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself.

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