American Politics

White House Considers Govt-Built, Public 5G Wireless Network To Counter Chinese Spying #Trump #5G

National security officials working for President Donald Trump are considering building a superfast 5G network as an option to counter Chinese spying on US phones, according to a report published Sunday.

Details of the plans come courtesy of a PowerPoint presentation and memo produced by a senior National Security Council official seen and reported by Axios. An unnamed senior administration official confirmed the accuracy of the information late Sunday to Reuters.

A nationalized 5G network is currently under discussion at a low level in the Trump administration and won’t be considered by the president for six to eight months, according to Axios. The network would be designed to counter Chinese threats to US economic and internet security, with emphasis on protecting emerging technologies reliant on 5G, such as self-driving cars and the internet of things.

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Such a network could be built and owned by the government, with infrastructure rented out to US carriers. This would be a significant departure from the current system, in which network providers build their own infrastructure and lease airwaves from the government.

The telecommunications industry has already been busy getting ready for a future built on 5G, the next-generation wireless technology that promises significantly better speed and coverage than current 4G networks.

While widespread implementation is likely still several years off, Verizon, the largest carrier in the US by number of subscribers, expects to begin commercial 5G operations as a broadband replacement service later this year. It’s set to spend around $17 billion in 2018 on capital projects, which includes its work on 5G. AT&T said it plans to launch a mobile 5G network in a dozen markets by the end of the year.


As Axiom reports, such a network could be built and owned by the government, with infrastructure rented out to US carriers. This would be a significant departure from the current system, in which network providers build their own infrastructure and lease airwaves from the government.

The telecommunications industry has already been busy getting ready for a future built on 5G, the next-generation wireless technology that promises significantly better speed and coverage than current 4G networks.

While widespread implementation is likely still several years off, Verizon, the largest carrier in the US by number of subscribers, expects to begin commercial 5G operations as a broadband replacement service later this year. It’s set to spend around $17 billion in 2018 on capital projects, which includes its work on 5G. AT&T said it plans to launch a mobile 5G network in a dozen markets by the end of the year.

Between the lines: A source familiar with the documents’ drafting says Option 2 is really no option at all: a single centralized network is what’s required to protect America against China and other bad actors.

The source said the internal White House debate will be over whether the U.S. government owns and builds the network or whether the carriers bind together in a consortium to build the network, an idea that would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country’s greater good.

Why it matters: Option 1 would lead to federal control of a part of the economy that today is largely controlled by private wireless providers. In the memo, the Trump administration likens it to “the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System” and says it would create a “new paradigm” for the wireless industry by the end of Trump’s current term.

But, but, but: The proposal to nationalize a 5G network also only covers one part of the airwaves; there’d be other spaces where private companies could build.

The PowerPoint presentation says that the U.S. has to build superfast 5G wireless technology 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.” To illustrate the current state of U.S. wireless networks, the PowerPoint uses a picture of a medieval walled city, compared to a future represented by a photo of lower Manhattan.

The best way to do this, the memo argues, is for the government to build a network itself. It would then rent access to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. (A source familiar with the document’s drafting told Axios this is an “old” draft and a newer version is neutral about whether the U.S. government should build and own it.)

It’s a marked shift from the current system where those companies each build their own systems with their own equipment, and with airwaves leased from the federal government.

Nationwide standard: the federal government would also, according to the memo, be able to use the banner of national security to create a federal process for installing the wireless equipment, preventing states and cities from having their own rules for where the equipment could go.

The bigger picture: The memo argues that a strong 5G network is needed in order to create a secure pathway for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and virtual reality — and to combat Chinese threats to America’s economic and cyber security. A PowerPoint slide says the play is the digital counter to China’s One Belt One Road Initiative meant to spread its influence beyond its borders. The documents also fret about China’s dominance of Artificial Intelligence, and use that as part of the rationale for this unprecedented proposal.

There’s even a suggestion that America’s work on a secure 5G network could be exported to emerging markets to protect democratic allies against China.

“Eventually,” the memo says, “this effort could help inoculate developing countries against Chinese neo-colonial behavior.”

AI arms race: The memo says China is slowly winning the AI “algorithm battles,” and that “not building the network puts us at a permanent disadvantage to China in the information domain.” There is a real debate to be had over China and AI, but it’s unclear what at all that has to do with a mobile network.

CLICK HERE to read the details & memo released by the White House.

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Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
January 29th, 2018

 

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