Could the Feds “Nationalize” 5G Networks?

Information obtained by Axios details an “unprecedented” proposal apparently being considered by the Trump Administration to protect the country’s 5G network from outside security and economic threats — “nationalization.”

Two options laid out by the documents:

  1. The U.S. government pays for and builds the single network — which would be an unprecedented nationalization of a historically private infrastructure.
  2. 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.

The justification for nationalization would be to quickly prepare for emerging technologies and to protect against the threats that China’s growing dominance in manufacturing and operating network infrastructure poses to American economic and security interests. The goal would be to have a centralized 5G network within three years. The option was likened to the Eisenhower Administration’s creation of the national highway system.

As the article explains this would be a significant change from an industry that is largely controlled by private interest who have already invested heavily in the deployment of the 5G networks.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (an appointment from the current Administration) has voiced opposition to the proposal, and favors a market-based approach.

Many state legislatures have seen legislation regarding “small cell” wireless deployment — in most cases, seeking to streamline local permitting processes to speed installation of new facilities with an eye toward 5G implementation.


For more information:

Scoop: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network (Axios)