In an effort to guard against Chinese cybersecurity threats, President Donald Trump and his national security team have set their sights on the nation’s mobile network. Specifically, they want to create a 5G network that is government run and regulated.
According to Axios, which managed to obtain sensitive documents about the 5G network plan, a PowerPoint deck and memo produced by a senior National Security Council official outlines how the government would create and run such a network within three years. The documents laid out two options for the plan:
The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.
An alternative plan where wireless providers build their own 5G networks that compete with one another — though the document says the downside is it could take longer and cost more. It argues that one of the “pros” of that plan is that it would cause “less commercial disruption” to the wireless industry than the government building a network.
While the first option would mean the government takes control of an historically privatized industry, the documents do outline that the 5G network would only cover one part of the airwaves, and private companies would still be able to operate as usual. Meanwhile, companies like AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have already invested heavily in research and development of 5G networks. Even with this stipulation, they’ll likely be heavily against such a government-run entity.
While the threat of Chinese and other cyberattacks against the Unites States is very real, it should cause concern that the government wants to take over such an important infrastructure. With the recent repeal of net neutrality, this plan seems to fly in the face of this administration’s attitude toward a smaller government. It’s will be interesting to see if and when this plan gathers steam.