National security officials in the Trump administration are pushing for the building of a government-led 5G wireless network. Officials say it is necessary to act as a counterweight to Chinese advances in technology.
A strong 5G network is required in order to create a secure pathway for state-of-the-art, and emerging technologies like self-driving cars and virtual reality. It’s also vital to defend critical national infrastructure from threats from China. They point to China’s One Belt One Road initiative meant to export Chinese influence beyond its borders.
Officials have proposed two options: have the federal government pay for, and build the network itself, or let current telecomm companies build the network. Officials argue that the second option would take longer and cost more, but would mean less government intervention in the private wireless industry.
Officials familiar with the issue however, say the second option is really no option at all, and what is needed is a single, centralized network to protect the U.S. from China and other bad actors.
Officials say the network is needed within three years. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have already begun investing heavily in the area. It’s unclear whether a government-led effort would result in a 5G network being created faster or by the three-year goal.