Last week, United States President Donald Trump said that he was not in favor of nationalizing 5G internet networks and said that private companies should instead lead the way in ushering in the new technology.
“In the United States our approach is private-sector driven and private-sector led. The government doesn’t have to spend lots of money. Leading through the government, it won’t be nearly as good, nearly as fast,” Trump said.
Trump said that the US must lead the way and become a pioneer in the industry.
“We cannot allow any other country to out-compete the United States in this powerful industry of the future. The race to 5G is a race America must win … It’s a race that we will win,” Trump said.
Over the past year, it was reported by numerous sources, including Politico, that Trump would focus on the nationalization of 5G networks as an election campaign issue, however, numerous advisors in the White House objected to the plan.
In his speech last week, President Trump stood alongside Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who will be overseeing the 5G spectrum auctions this December.
Pai said Trump’s comments opposing nationalization was an “important signal” to the private sector that is investing tens of billions of dollars in the 5G networks, according to Reuters. Pai is also reportedly proposing a $20.4 billion investment over the next ten years, put towards the construction of high speed broadband networks in the rural parts of the United States.
An industry trade group called CTIA praised Trump for his recent remarks, saying that his statement finally “puts an end – once and for all – to any misguided notions of nationalizing spectrum resources or government-mandated wholesale 5G markets.”
The plan seemed to have overwhelming support among industry insiders.
In a statement this week, Jonathan Adelstein, president, and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association said that this decision on 5G will unleash a new wave of economic growth for the United States.
“Today’s announcements will keep the US on track to lead the world in 5G deployment and reap the benefits of next generation wireless networks, unleashing a wave of economic growth and innovation,” Adelstein said.
According to Cnet, Steven Berry, the head of the Competitive Carrier Association, which represents smaller wireless providers in rural parts of the country, thanked the administration for its focus on 5G, particularly in rural areas.
“Auctioning additional spectrum and providing certainty regarding deployment policies will support industry efforts to bring the latest wireless services to urban and rural areas alike,” he said.
However, as usual, Trump’s plan is not without critics. Many Democrats suggest that Trump has already intervened too much in 5G technology.
Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats serving on the FCC, pointed to Trump’s tariffs on foreign technology companies, which could isolate the United States from technological innovation.
“So far, this Administration’s interventions on 5G have done more harm than good. From imposing tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies on 5G security to falling behind the rest of the world on critical mid-band spectrum, the White House has yet to offer a workable plan for US leadership,” Rosenworcel said,
“It looks to me like they are dressing up an old program in new Trump-era clothes and suggesting that somehow the problem will be solved,” she added.
Harold Fed with the consumer watchdog group Public Knowledge is skeptical about the administration’s ability to actually achieve greater internet access for rural communities.
“Chairman Pai and the Trump Administration have an unfortunate history of promising big things for rural broadband with great fanfare, but have either failed to deliver, or simply taken credit for programs developed by the Obama Administration. Hopefully, this will not be the case again.” Fed said in a statement.
5G networks are said to be extremely fast, and experts predict that 5G speeds will be necessary for advanced technologies like self driving cars. However, critics say that this technology has not been sufficiently tested and could be a potential health risk, considering that the towers for these networks will be everywhere, unlike the current cell towers that are spread miles apart.