Industry groups, lawmakers from both parties, and Trump administration officials are fighting recent steps the Pentagon has taken toward a nationalized 5G network.
According to The Hill, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has led the campaign to get Rivada Networks, the wireless company favored by the White House, to construct a 5G network. The company itself says the network should not be owned by the government.
Rivada responded the day before the Pentagon's Oct. 19 deadline for an RFI, or request for information, on speeding up spectrum sharing and 5G deployment. A Pentagon spokesperson said no decisions have been made on an RFP, or request for proposal, on nationalized 5G.
Spokesperson Russell Goemaere told The Hill that the "DOD [Department of Defense] has no plans to own and operate a nationwide 5G network. However, as the RFI asked, DOD is exploring the idea of owning and operating a 5G network on military bases."
But the Pentagon's interactions with the wireless telecommunications industry are worrying lawmakers who are concerned about the impacts of nationalizing 5G.
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., called the Pentagon's RFI on a federally-owned 5G network a "very bad idea," adding, "It is crucial that this RFI not cause costly delays we can ill afford in bringing this valuable spectrum to market."
Earlier this month, 19 Republican senators wrote a letter to President Donald Trump about the RFI, asking him to support a free-market approach to 5G deployment.
Wireless communications industry trade association CTIA, the Internet and Television Association, USTelecom —The Broadband Association, and other industry groups also wrote to Trump, opposing efforts to nationalize 5G.
"Such an action would be at odds with more than a century of private sector led innovation and investment in communications networks, have a chilling effect on the entire broadband sector, and jeopardize American leadership in the global digital economy," the groups wrote.
Many U.S. officials are worried about China's advances in the high-speed technology and are putting forward plans to secure America's leading role in this new realm.
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