National security officials from President Donald Trump’s administration are reportedly looking at ways for the government to take control part of the country’s mobile network as a way of guarding against China.
The plan includes the government building a super-fast 5G wireless network, a senior administration official told Reuters.
The official, confirming the gist of a report from Axios.com, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself.
The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China’s threat to US cybersecurity and economic security.
The Trump administration has taken a harder line on policies initiated by predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire US strategic industries.
Earlier this month, AT&T dropped a deal that would see the carrier offer its customers handsets built by China’s Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators.
“We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the senior official told Reuters.
“We have to have a secure network that doesn’t allow bad actors to get in. We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business.”
However, according to reports, major wireless carriers have spent billions of dollars buying spectrum to launch 5G networks, and it is unclear if the US government would have enough spectrum to build its own 5G network.
Accenture has estimated that wireless operators will invest as much as $275 billion in the United States over seven years as they build out 5G.
Another option includes having a 5G network built by a consortium of wireless carriers, said the US official.
A 5G network is expected to offer significantly faster speeds, more capacity and shorter response times, which could be utilised for new technologies ranging from self-driving cars to remote surgeries. Telecom companies and their suppliers consider it to be a multibillion-dollar revenue opportunity.