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US Plans for National 5G Network Shot Down

Plans drawn up by Donald Trump’s security team to build a government-run nationwide 5G network to combat Chinese spying have been shot down by the FCC and others.

A PowerPoint presentation from the President’s national security team is said to have claimed the US needs to build such a network quickly because: “China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure,” and “China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.”

The idea is that the government would build the network – which it says needs to be done within three years – and then license access to providers such as AT&T and Verizon.

Such a plan is even more important given that autonomous connected cars and other emerging technologies would have to run over it, the proposal argued.

“Eventually this effort could help inoculate developing countries against Chinese neo-colonial behavior,” the presentation continued, according to Axios.

However, key private sector players have already begun work on 5G and spent billions acquiring spectrum for the new protocol.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai dismissed the idea, claiming in a statement that: “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.”

Even Mark Warner, vice chairman of the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, claimed the plans “would be both expensive and duplicative,” costing an estimated $30bn.

The arguments presented by the Trump team here are in many ways a continuation of the thought which led the US government in 2012 to effectively ban Huawei and ZTE from tendering for telecoms infrastructure projects, due to national security concerns.

Those concerns, and tensions between the two superpowers, have since increased significantly and belated attempts are being made at a government level to prevent Chinese companies from gaining a greater foothold in the US.

AT&T was pressured earlier this month to pull out of a deal to sell Huawei handsets, for example.

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