A leaked PowerPoint deck and memo indicate the Trump Administration may be considering the construction of a government-built and -operated 5G wireless network, . The documents call for the creation of the nationwide network within three years, despite the ongoing development of a privately-held network currently under construction by companies such as like Samsung, Intel, Nokia, and Huawei. Since the release of the initial documents, the Trump administration has .
Supposing they are, there is still the question of why the White House would consider them in the first place. While a nationalized approach to this sort of infrastructure development seems quite uncharacteristic of a Republican administration, it would ostensibly allow the United States build such a network quickly, and with minimal involvement from Chinese-owned companies like Huawei, .
“China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure ... China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.”
The national security community's fear of Chinese-made network infrastructure that is designed to spy on the United States is not entirely unfounded, though much of the evidence for such a tactic stems not from Chinese but American behavior; into Huawei equipment for its own surveillance purposes. The document also alludes to the public good in addition to national security concerns, comparing the development of such as network as akin to the Eisenhower National Highway System.
Despite any upsides, such a plan would undoubtedly face extreme and widespread political opposition. Various trade groups have insisted the U.S. should stick to free-market policies, and the entire FCC—deeply split on the matter of net neutrality protections—has also come out . And that is to say nothing of a Republican-dominated Congress with a record of pro-business decisions. And if the documents were not in fact outdated as Recode reports, the reaction to their release would likely give any enthusiastic proponents pause.
Whatever the case may be, a nationalized 5G network is now a part of the conversation, however unlikely it may be to come to pass.