Is Trump really thinking of nationalizing 5G?

Rob Powell / Telecom Ramblings
30 Jan 2018

There are some days one really wonders if one is still asleep when reading the headlines on Monday morning. According to a report on Axios that is quickly making the rounds on the major news channels, the Trump Administration is considering nationalizing parts of the nascent 5G network infrastructure that providers have been starting to put together.

Now this isn't a tweet, it's supposedly a PowerPoint deck and a memo from the National Security Council that was supposedly presented to the administration. So it isn't actually an active proposal, it's more of a proposed proposal. And it's one that seems highly doubtful to pass muster.

The argument is simple: without a centralized, national 5G network the US will be helpless against China and other hacker-infested foreign influences. Therefore, either the US government could pay for and build the network (yeah, they said that) or wireless providers do it as a consortium, and then would rent access to it.

It looks to me as if this is coming from the guys who are worried that the more complex US infrastructure gets, the more endpoints it has and the more dependent we are on it, the less possible it will be to spy on it as the NSA is said to be doing currently. After all, if the government runs the network, they don't have to ask AT&T, Verizon, and the others and get a judge to agree they need it when they want to know something.

Because if there's anyone who can build our networks and keep them safe, functional, and innovative, it's a Trump appointee. Maybe China will pay for it too. I'm sorry, it's a serious topic that is hard to take seriously in this context. It really is.

On the other hand, if it has legs then the coalition that arises against the idea will be pretty interesting. There will be some new bedfellows to be sure.

This article was authored by Rob Powell and was originally posted on

Rob Powell is founder & editor of Telecom Ramblings, which was set up in 2008. The website is dedicated to discussing trends and developments in the telecom industry.

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