President Trump’s national-security team authored an internal memo urging the administration to build a super-fast 5G wireless network that would safeguard U.S. phones from spying by foreign hackers, a senior administration official said Sunday. The official said that the memo’s authors, who are members of the National Security Council, are especially concerned about cyber-intrusion from China.
“We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” a 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.”
The memo calls for constructing a new “5G network platform” under government control by the end of Trump’s first term. The concept is currently under debate among White House security staff, the official said, adding that it won’t go to Trump for him to decide on it for at least another six to eight months. The official said that other options are also under consideration, such as having a 5G network built by a consortium of wireless carriers.
Major wireless carriers have already bought large amounts of the available broadband spectrum in the United States to build 5G networks. T-Mobile and Dish Network spent respectively $8 billion and $6.2 billion last year to obtain the majority of the broadcast airwaves spectrum, and Accenture estimates that wireless operators will invest another $275 billion total in the United States as the build out their 5G networks
In addition, AT&T will be launching 5G service in 12 new locations nationwide later this year. It is unclear if the U.S. government will have enough spectrum available to build its own.