The idea, which circulates in the White House, a super-fast mobile Internet network 5G funded by the US federal state for reasons of national security, was unanimous against it Monday, the regulator of telecom to the industry.
According to US media, citing a confidential note, White House officials responsible for national security urge the state to ally with industry, or to invest directly in the 5G mobile Internet network with public funds, in order to create a “safe” network.
The goal would be to counter the ambitions of China, which invests heavily in this technology, which the National Security Council (NSC), which drafted the note, considers a threat to national security.
5G provides much faster access to mobile internet than 4G but requires a specific infrastructure, including the construction of new relay antennas.
A source close to the case confirmed to AFP that this “had been discussed for two or three weeks” at the highest level, at the request of national security officials. However, added the source on condition of anonymity, “Many believe it’s a stupid idea.”
Asked about this subject on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed “discussions around the need for a secure network”.
“We are only at an early stage of this discussion. There is no decision to take, “she added.
In any case, the idea seemed to be unanimous against her on Monday.
The chairman of the (FCC) Ajit, appointed by Republican President Donald Trump, said in a statement “opposed to any idea of a national network 5G built and managed by the government.”
According to him, it is “the market, not the government, which is best placed to drive innovation &investment” and any federal attempt “to build a nationalized 5G network would be costly and counterproductive and would divert us from needed for the future of 5G in the United States.
Another FCC member, Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, has rejected this idea.
“The worst idea in the history of the internet”
Telecom operators have also protested against this possibility. “Nothing can stop our hard-earned momentum to be the world leaders in the deployment of 5G, as the arrival of the federal government to build these networks,” said Jonathan Spalter, head of the organization USTelecom.
Another negative reaction is that of the mobile Internet industry, represented by CTIA, that “the government should continue its policy of free competition that has allowed the US mobile industry to win the race for 4G.
For the TechFreedom association, which names the concept “TrumpNet”, it would be “the worst idea in the history of the internet”.
According to the NSC’s note quoted by the American media, two main scenarios are evoked: to finance the public network or to ally with private operators to create together a single centralized network.
The 5G technology, which is starting to be tested, will take over from 4G by 2020. It notably makes it possible to improve mobile video streaming services. It is also necessary for the development of technologies such as the autonomous car.
The debate comes as a partnership between the Chinese manufacturer of smartphones Huawei and US operator AT & T likely fell into the water in early January after US officials had denounced the risk of “espionage”.
Beijing had denounced in the wake of a “rise of protectionism” in the United States.
The FCC also recently decided to end the principle of “net neutrality”, according to the regulator, to allow operators to invest more in telecommunications networks, such as 5G.
According to a study by Accenture, operators plan to invest $ 275 billion in this infrastructure.