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What’s Going On With America’s 5G Plan?

Cell tower

Republicans aren’t known—traditionally—for befriending political-economic philosophies that mirror those of the Chinese Communist Party, so when Trump proposed nationalizing America’s 5G wireless network, he found few friends.

‘Big Government’ is anathema to the entire party’s existence. And it doesn’t get any bigger or more intrusive than nationalization.

Trump would seem to disagree, though, citing the national security threat posed by Chinese technological dominance.

His strategy, as of January at least, seems to be that of fighting fire with fire. Powerful nations such as China and Russia, of course, have the strategic advantage of using their giant companies as political and economic weapons that are fully under their control and fully at their disposal.

In the free-for-all that is America, corporate giants are ruled by money, not national interest, and Trump wants to make sure that the country’s 5G wireless network beats China to market no matter what. 

While no one was surprised that Republicans weren’t keen on the nationalization proposal, a recent report by POLITICO, which obtained a January email through the Freedom of Information Act, stresses just how opposed they are.

In a message to a telecommunications attorney in January, Mike O’Rielly, a Republican serving on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said Trump’s proposal was the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard”.

“The ability of an administration, especially this one, to carry it out is near zero,” he added.

Originally, the idea of nationalizing America’s 5G wireless network was proposed by a National Security Council official, who likened it to building a national highway system in the 1950s, according to Axios.

In late January, the administration confirmed that discussions to this end were ongoing, but said they were in “the very earliest stages” and “absolutely no decisions” had been made.

It was, though, immediately rejected by the FCC Chairman, a Trump-appointed Republican, Ajit Pai, who stated that “Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”

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Indeed, the telecoms giants like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and even Apple balked immediately. The carriers have spent billions of dollars in the race to get across the 5G finish line first, and to have the government step in with its own suddenly would be … big.

The FCC seems to think we won’t even get to the 5G finish line without doing it the free-market way.

Since January, there’s been no talk of nationalization, but this week, a new idea was floated: Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is calling for a single, privatized 5G network across the country.

"It is time for America to have a single 5G network for all carriers. The days of dropped calls, slow speeds, and no service need to end. It is time for the U.S. to have the world’s best cell service," Parscale tweeted Tuesday, as reported The Hill.

Then, on Wednesday, he tweeted: "A great 5G network, in my personal opinion, consists of an open wholesale market with a privatized company that isn’t a carrier. Government doesn’t own or operate it but does provide the spectrum."

Parscale’s tweets come a few weeks after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that such a 5G network was a major Trump administration priority, and that “whoever pursues it, whoever does it, we’re very much in support of 5G. We need it. We need it for defense purposes, we need it for commercial purposes.”

No one’s quite sure what the government’s intentions are by dropping this publicity bomb on the front-running 5G carriers, and whether it’s a call to arms to get them moving faster. But what’s the government’s incentive? Well, that remains a mystery for now.

The end goal, though, is clear and critical: The U.S. is locked in a race with China to be the first to deploy a countrywide 5G network, and victory is of national security importance.

By Michael Scott for Safehaven.com

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