Recently, President Trump has been declaring a trade war with China - the country that holds the majority of the US' debt. And has even squashed a potential deal between Broadcom and Qualcomm, keeping the Chinese out of the US' 5G network plans. For the US wireless carriers, however, this makes everything a bit tougher, to rollout a 5G network. Being first to roll out a 5G network is going to important, as the carrier that does so, will be able to pick up more market share. Since customers are very loyal in the wireless space, it's tough to get customers to jump ship to a new carrier. As an example, when Verizon was first to roll out 4G LTE nearly seven years ago, it picked up five percentage points on its market share and is still the largest carrier.
President Trump has also been toying with the idea of creating a nationalized 5G network, in an attempt to protect US security. However, that would mean that the government would be regulating wireless networks in the US, and that could lead to censorship, like what China currently has. President Trump has been working hard to protect intellectual property of US companies as of late, which includes slapping tariffs on China, and blocking acquisitions. However, right now, there are no US companies that can actually build out a 5G network entirely. Considering most carriers are using Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei to build out the actual network, and Huawei has already been blocked by the government, for the most part, that leaves the four carriers with Nokia or Ericsson. Qualcomm is in the 5G space, but it doesn't build out the hardware needed for the network. Instead, Qualcomm builds the modems that are needed for a phone (or another product) to connect to that 5G network.
The US is looking to become the first country to roll out a 5G network, and the President is doing all he can to make sure the US is first, but to also protect the US from other countries. Fully available 5G networks are still about two years away from rolling out across the country, but the four carriers are looking to have some sort of 5G network available before the end of the year, or in early 2019.