According to “sensitive” documents obtained by Axios, the US is looking at the possibility of building a national 5G network amid growing concerns about China.
The documents include a PowerPoint deck and a memo, reportedly produced by a senior National Security Council adviser, which have been presented recently to other federal agencies.
Fifth-generation wireless technology, one of the documents reads, can position the US to leap ahead of global competitors and build the “21st-century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System.”
The focus of the plan would be to counter the rising influence of Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, as Washington steps up restrictions on the role the two can play in the US market.
“Whoever leads in technology and market share for 5G deployment will have a tremendous advantage towards ushering in the Massive Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and thus the commanding heights of the information domain,” according to the memo.
Axios describes the proposals as representing an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the United States’ mobile network to guard against China.
According to a separate report from Bloomberg on Monday, key decisions over funding and control haven’t been reached. The US government aims to decide on a plan by the end of September, building the network over the next few years, according to one senior official.
A leading trade group, with members including AT&T and Verizon, pushed back on the plans, saying it sees a competitive marketplace as the best option for ensuring US leadership in 5G technology.
The presentation suggested that the administration had already talked with allies about the idea, including the bullet point “Japan all in,” under the heading “Arena of Allied Cooperation.”
The development comes after AT&T was forced under reported US government pressure to nix a deal to sell Huawei phones through its wireless plans, and amid talk that lawmakers are urging the US service provider to sever any remaining ties with the Chinese company.