Trump administration considers 5G nationalisation plan, according to reports

29 January 2018 | James Pearce


The US government has set its sights on taking over a part of the country’s mobile infrastructure in order to guard against security concerns from China, a report claims.

News outlet Axios.com, citing sensitive documents it obtained, said security officials in the Trump administration are considering two options to counter the threat of China spying on US phones, one of which is building a centralised 5G network which it could rent to private carriers.

The report claims a senior National Security Council official presented the report to members of President Trump’s administration along with other agencies, calling for a centralised 5G network to be introduced by the end of Trump’s first term in office.

Such a move would prove extremely controversial, given the fact that the two biggest mobile operators in the US – Verizon and AT&T – have both recently announced plans to deploy 5G networks by the end of 2018.

In its report, Axios cited a source familiar with the matter who said a more up-to-date version of the report offered an alternative option, which would continue with operators building their own 5G network.

It comes as members of Congress have raised concerns about the growing market share at Chinese equipment vendors such as Huawei and ZTE. Reuters cites an unnamed congressional aide who said newer classified intelligence had seen concerns around the two vendors resurface.

“We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the senior official told Reuters.

“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.”