Security officials within the Trump administration have proposed a bold plan to update and control a portion of the U.S. mobile network, according to documents obtained by Axios. Under the guise of national security, a ranking member of the National Security Council went before other senior officials to recommend the government replace the current 4G technology with a faster 5G network.
The plan suggests two options for the funding and building of the 5G network. The first would give the federal government complete control over the infrastructure, meaning private wireless companies would be left out. The second possibility will allow wireless providers the opportunity to build their own 5G networks, something Verizon and AT&T are already working on.
However, security officials are leaning toward a federally-funded and regulated 5G network, arguing it will take less time and not cause as much “commercial disruption” to get it operational. Once built, the government would lease access to wireless carriers. This essentially means the government would take over an industry traditionally controlled by corporations.
The government’s push for a fast 5G network is fueled by the need to keep pace with China, which has already obtained “a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure.” Officials believe the 5G network will help in the fight against foreign competition and potential cyberattacks from China. The proposal also suggests the technology could be used to protect U.S. allies from the Communist country.
If the government plan moves forward and leaves wireless companies out of the loop, projections indicate 5G technology would be available nationwide within three years. A Mashable report notes current broadband download speeds reach an average of 17 megabits per second, while a 5G network would boost the speed to something closer to 1 gigabit per second. The faster system would allow other technologies like artificial intelligence and automated cars to reach a greater potential.
The U.S. is not the only one racing to develop and build a 5G mobile network. Japan and Korea have dedicated resources to the technology and are currently testing equipment capable of reaching much higher speeds than the current 4G model. The Trump administration’s proposed project for the creation of a national wireless network has been likened to when the federal government took over the nation’s highway system under President Eisenhower.