• The US federal government is exploring the idea of building its own 5G wireless network infrastructure, according to documents obtained by Axios.
  • The proposal states that China's "dominant position" in 5G network infrastructure poses a threat to the US, and a nationalized 5G network would combat that.
  • Private companies like Verizon and AT&T have always built and operated wireless infrastructure in the past.
  • The move would be unprecedented, and wireless companies are already coming out against the idea.

The National Security Council  is pitching the idea of having the United States  government build the infrastructure for the upcoming 5G evolution in wireless communications, according to documents obtained by Axios.

A nationalized wireless network would be unprecedented for the United States.

Wireless communication infrastructure is usually built by private companies, like Verizon and AT&T. But a senior member of the National Security Council reportedly believes the US would be under a greater cybersecurity threat from China if the federal government didn't have more control over the upcoming 5G networks.

cell towerA worker climbs on a cellular communication tower on March 6, 2014 in Oakland, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty

According to the documents obtained by Axios, the pitch deck states that "China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain," and that China is in a dominant position when it comes to the manufacturing and operation of network infrastructure. As a result, the documents propose that the US should act quickly to build its own 5G infrastructure. 

5G is the evolution of the current 4G LTE network that delivers wireless data to mobile devices, like smartphones. It's said that 5G network speeds will be so fast and it will have so much bandwidth that it will be used for much more than simple smartphone data. Industries like the self-driving auto industry, for example, are looking at 5G for the high-intensity communication that's needed for cars to drive themselves.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who recently achieved notoriety for repealing net-neutrality, stated on Twitter that he opposes the proposal that the federal government should build and operate a 5G network. He goes on to proclaim that "The market, not the government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment."

AT&T told Axios in response to the report that "thanks to multi-billion dollar investments made by American companies, the work to launch 5G service in the United States is already well down the road," seemingly suggesting that the government's efforts would be implemented more slowly than the private sectors' ongoing efforts.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider. 

Published on: Jan 29, 2018