As one of my followers put it, “Beijing does not like the direction of U.S. policy.
US President Donald Trump’s plan for 5G network is misguided and counterproductive
The US tech sector is famous for being competitive and for its free flow of ideas and talent, free of government interference. The president’s plan for a government-owned network could undermine all that and work to America’s disadvantage. That may benefit China in the end.
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 2:52am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 2:52am
The Trump White House seems to see threats everywhere from China. The latest is 5G technology, the wonder telecommunications platform that is expected to provide not only faster connectivity and ubiquitous coverage, but support for driverless cars, transport systems, cloud computing, and uses and businesses yet to be developed or even imagined. US companies have already spent billions developing the technology and buying up broadcast airwaves spectrum to launch such networks.
Then thunder strikes. President Donald Trump’s national security team has drawn up a blueprint to build a nationwide, government-owned 5G network to counter Chinese advances in the development of the technology, including alleged spying and commercial advantages.
The whole plan is misguided and counterproductive, especially for American companies and consumers. Thankfully, it is still at an early stage. A senior official on the White House team said it would take six to eight months before it could be presented to Trump for consideration. One can only hope wiser heads will prevail.
In his first state-of-the-union address, the US President declared loudly that “the era of economic surrender is over”.
While the critical reference was ostensibly made to multiple major trading partners of the US, China was the leading target. There are ominous signs. Huawei and ZTE, which lead the development and commercialisation of 5G-related technologies on the mainland, have recently been shut out of lucrative carrier network deals in the US because of security worries. Trump’s speech also came just days after steep tariffs were imposed on solar panels, which hit China hard.
If the White House does go ahead with the 5G plan, it would smack of state capitalism, the kind that Americans love to decry about China. By nationalising its development, it would take over or at least affect commercial projects in the name of national interest. Commercial plans and technological developments already achieved in the private sector would have to be dropped or revamped, adding to costs.
Ironically, on the mainland, 5G is primarily being developed by private-sector companies. In the current climate in Washington, though, it is perhaps inevitable that China’s technological frontiers are being seen as a threat.
An international 5G standard is expected to be released with initial specifications this year, with commercial deployment by 2020. China and other countries are willing to abide by it.
Will the US go its own way? The US tech sector is famous for being competitive and for its free flow of ideas and talent, free of government interference. The 5G plan could undermine all that and work to America’s disadvantage. That may benefit China in the end.
Trump security team considers building 5G network ‘so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls’
‘We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business’
PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 January, 2018, 1:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 2:31am
US President Donald Trump’s national security team is looking at options to counter the threat of China spying on US phone calls that include the government building a super-fast 5G wireless network, a senior administration official said on Sunday.
The official, confirming the gist of a report from Axios.com, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself.
The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China’s threat to US cybersecurity and economic security.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has taken a harder line on policies initiated by predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire US strategic industries.
Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers handsets built by China’s Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.
The US government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of US money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc.
“We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the senior official said. “We have to have a secure network that doesn’t allow bad actors to get in. We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business.”
Major US wireless carriers have spent billions of dollars buying spectrum to launch 5G networks, and it is unclear if the US government would have enough spectrum to build its own 5G network.
Last year, T-Mobile US Inc spent US$8 billion and Dish Network Corp US$6.2 billion to win the bulk of broadcast airwaves spectrum for sale in a government auction, held by the US Federal Communications Commission.
A Verizon spokesman declined to comment. Representatives for AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Another option includes having a 5G network built by a consortium or wireless carriers, the official said.
“We want to build a secure 5G network and we have to work with industry to figure out the best way to do it,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Axios published documents that it said were from a presentation from a National Security Council official about the 5G issue. If the government built the 5G network, it would rent access to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, Axios said.
A looming concern laid out in the presentation is China’s growing presence in the manufacture and operation of wireless networks. A concerted government push could help the US compete on that front, according to the presentation.
A US 5G network is expected to offer significantly faster speeds, more capacity and shorter response times, which could be utilised for new technologies ranging from self-driving cars to remote surgeries. Telecom companies and their suppliers consider it to be a multibillion-dollar revenue opportunity.