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30 Jan 2018

Trump-administration to build 5G network to guard against China

US government to takeover mobile-networks, build centralized 5G-network

The US Government is reportedly mulling to takeover a part of the country's mobile networks and build a centralized, super-fast 5G network within three years to guard the nation against China.

The national security officials in President Trump's administration are considering options to counter alleged spying on phone calls by China, a threat to US cyber-security and economic security, suggests Axios's report.

Here's more.

In context

US government to takeover mobile-networks, build centralized 5G-network


NSC official presents documents to seniors in Trump administration

Axios reportedly obtained a PowerPoint presentation and a memo regarding the matter prepared by a senior US National Security Council official.

The gist of the documents is that the US needs a centralized national 5G network in three years. Trump administration is going to debate the options over the coming 6-8 months about how the network is built and who will pay for it.

Two options

Two options for developing the 5G network

The presented documents laid out two options for building the 5G network.

In the first option, the government would pay for and build the centralized network; it would be "an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure," noted Axios.

In the second option, network providers build their 5G networks and compete with one another. This would be costly and take more time.

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Debate over whether the government builds the network or carriers


Debate over whether the government builds the network or carriers

Quoting a source, Axios says the documents suggest the second option (carriers build their own 5G networks) isn't really an option as a single national network is what the government wants to protect the US against China.

The Trump administration would primarily debate over whether the government should own/build the network or whether the operators come together to form a consortium to develop it.

Controversial Option

Federal control over mobile networks controversial, says report

While the first option means that the government would have control over a significant part of the economy that is currently and traditionally controlled by private carriers, but it is unprecedented and controversial.

In the memo, Trump administration likened the 5G network to "the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System," adding it would be a "new paradigm" in the wireless industry.

China dominates network infrastructure manufacture, operation: Documents


China dominates network infrastructure manufacture, operation: Documents

The presentation says the US needs to build super-fast 5G technology quickly as "China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain."

The memo argues that the best way to achieve this is letting the government build the network and then rent its access to private operators. Traditionally, the carriers build their own systems while the government leases the airwaves to them.

Exporting 5G Network

5G network to be exported to emerging markets, democratic allies

The memo says a strong 5G network is required for a secure "pathway for emerging technologies".

The presentation says it is "the digital counter" to China's One Belt One Road Initiative.

The documents also suggest the US's secure national 5G network can also be exported to and used for protecting its democratic allies and also developing countries against China and its "neo-colonial behavior".

Debate over China surpassing US in AI battle

Meanwhile, the memo also emphasizes on China overtaking the US in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) race. It says China is winning AI "algorithm battles...(and) not building the (5G) network puts us (America) at a permanent disadvantage to China in the information domain."

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