The Federal Communications Commission deems the idea of nationalizing the country-wide 5G project "a costly and counterproductive distraction" from the actual efforts that are needed to support the next wireless revolution and ensure the U.S. is at its forefront, the regulator said Monday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explicitly opposed "any federal effort" to build and maintain a 5G network as part of a prepared statement issued by the agency. The wireless industry is in a much better position to accelerate innovation and infrastructural investments necessary for nationwide 5G deployment, Mr. Pai argued, claiming that all developments observed in the last three decades confirm his stance.
The response was issued in reaction to a recent report that the Trump administration is presently discussing the idea of nationalizing 5G deployment in the United States due to security concerns and fear that it will be left behind China in a number of technological fields, artificial intelligence in particular. The main proposal outlined in the leaked memo said to have been authored by a senior member of the National Security Council was to take the task of building out 5G infrastructure away from mobile service providers so as to prevent Chinese network equipment manufacturers like Huawei, China Telecom, and ZTE from installing their infrastructure in the U.S. Washington reportedly already blocked Huawei from entering into a smartphone retail agreement with AT&T due to similar reasons, most of which come down to spying concerns. With the next generation of wireless networks being expected to lead to the creation of new types of products, services, and businesses, the leaked proposal advocates for the U.S. government taking the matter of deploying 5G infrastructure into its own hands so as to allow for secure growth of ecosystems such as autonomous cars. One insider later claimed the memo suggesting such a move was outdated, adding that its latest revision is neutral in regards to whether the federal government should spearhead 5G deployment, though it still advocated for a more hands-on approach to the issue.
The FCC Chairman left little room for interpretation with his comments on the matter, stating that the only role Washington should play in 5G commercialization is the one that sees it directly allow for more spectrum to be made available to private companies and enact regulation encouraging the development and buildout of 5G infrastructure. The controversial proposal is unlikely to lead to an actual federal intervention in the wireless sector, most industry watchers believe.