In order to stay one step ahead of potential national cybersecurity threats, President Donald Trump’s national security officials are considering taking control of plans to create a new nationwide 5G network in the coming years.
A PowerPoint presentation and memo acquired by Axios recently outlined the options currently being weighed by the U.S. government, as well as the security concerns.
The information, produced by a member of the National Security Council, was presented recently to top officials at other agencies in the Trump Administration. The documents heavily favor the idea of a centralized nationwide 5G mobile network being created within the next few years; mobile devices such as cell phones currently rely on 4G/LTE networks. However, there is some debate as to how such a network might be created – and also how it would remain secure.
Outlined in the documents are two different options on how the 5G network might be built and paid for.
One option calls for the U.S. government to pay and build the network. This move would be an unprecedented nationalization of infrastructure that has primarily remained private.
A second plan relies on current wireless providers to build their own 5G networks, similar to how companies such as Verizon and AT&T currently produce LTE networks for consumers. This option promotes competition and would allow Americans to have options when it comes to their 5G network, but this method is also more costly and may take longer to establish.
But the main cause for concern with network providers taking on the task themselves is national security.
A source familiar with the documents expressed that a single centralized network is a better option for protecting America against China and other potential threats. And while a single network created by wireless providers would be possible, it would require them to abandon the current competition model that drives their profits.
If the U.S. government does decide a centralized 5G network is the best option, it would usher in a new era of wireless network technology for the country.
In the memo obtained by Axios, the Trump Administration calls it the “21st Century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System.”
The memo also states that even if the centralized 5G network happens, wireless provides like AT&T and Verizon are not going anywhere. Instead of building and selling their own networks, they would simply rent access to the network from the government and provide that access to customers.
While it remains to be seen how the 5G network would be constructed, the Trump Administration expressed that improvements and innovation in the space are universally a top priority. And with the growing threat of China, in particular, infiltrating America’s networks, the U.S. government, along with network providers, hope this technology will transpire sooner rather than later.