The prospect of nationalised 5G infrastructure in the US resurfaced as President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign backed a proposal originally scrapped in 2018 following industry backlash.
Politico reported the scheme would give the government control of 5G spectrum to create a wholesale market from which operators would buy capacity. A Trump campaign representative told Politico the plan would “drive down costs” and help expand 5G access in rural and underserved areas.
Trump’s administration first floated the idea in January 2018 as part of a bid to more effectively compete against China in the race to 5G.
However, the election campaign’s resurrection of the issue put it at odds with administration officials in the White House, who had been quick to drop the original plan in favour of a free-market approach after fierce criticism from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai and wireless industry players.
In a follow up statement to Politico, the campaign clarified “the White House sets the policy on 5G and all issues”.
Last month, Trump expressed renewed concern about 5G dominance, criticising US operators for “lagging” on next generation deployments and calling on them to “step up their efforts”.
However, critics including Pai were quick to reiterate their opposition to the idea of network nationalisation as a tool to get ahead: on Twitter, Pai reposted a statement from January 2018 in which he argued “the market, not the government, is best-positioned to drive innovation and investment”.
FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr expressed similar sentiments on the social media site, with the latter deeming “China-like nationalisation” of 5G networks “a non-starter”.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back