US floats idea nationalizing high-speed networks, drawing rebukes

30 January, 2018, 14:05 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • FCC chief opposes Trump administration 5G network plan

Documents obtained by Axios outline National Security Council (NSC) plans to guard against Chinese cyberattacks by bringing at least a portion of the 5G network in-house.

The Trump administration has made no decisions regarding a National Security Council proposal to nationalize the forthcoming fifth-generation, or 5G wireless broadband network meant to prevent the network from being exploited for espionage purposes by China. They did confirm that their reasoning for a government-owned 5G network was to stop China's threat to United States cyber and economic security.

Citing the documents, Axios reported that America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years and there are two options for consideration.

Under one option being considered, the government would pay for and build a nationwide 5G network, effectively nationalizing a section of the country's telecom industry. As Axios notes, the wireless industry is already deploying 5G networks to customers.

5G technology, one of the documents reads, can position the United States to leap ahead of global competitors and build the "21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System". A senior administration official confirmed to Reuters: "We want to build a network so the Chinese can't listen to your call". The memo also suggests the U.S. work to develop a secure 5G network concept, which could then be shared with allies.

Currently, U.S. -based wireless carriers are each planning to launch their own 5G networks by 2020.

"As we outlined in our national security strategy. we discussed the need for a secure network", she said, adding that "a lot of things are on the table".

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Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, opposed the move in a statement Monday, saying "the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment". The documents also outline other possible plans, including a market consortium approach that still would involve more cooperation among competitors than is now the case.

As such, while these networks might be secure enough for day-to-day operations, they are not sufficient for sensitive government information.

A leaked memo attributed to White House security officials proposing to nationalize the upcoming 5G wireless network has sparked a massive wave of criticism from companies, U.S. senators and voices outside the US.

The wireless world has been aswirl with reports that national security officials are considering a plan to take control of 5G networks.

The idea was immediately criticized by Trump's head of the Federal Communications Commission.

Any 5G nationalization plan would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, wireless carriers said.

The memo noted that the proposal to nationalize a 5G network only covers one part of the airwaves; there'd be other spaces where private companies could build. It will supersede the current private-federal relationship of licensing certain bandwidths to networks where upon they carry out infrastructure and service to consumers with their own monies.


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