The three Republicans on the Federal Communications Commission, including the agency’s chairman Ajit Pai, are criticizing a reported proposal under consideration by the Trump administration to nationalize a 5G wireless network to protect against China.
Axios reported Sunday that national security officials in the Trump administration have discussed the need for a nationwide 5G network within three years. Documents obtained by the news outlet outlined two options for the next generation of wireless: the U.S. government builds and operates the 5G network, or wireless providers build their own networks.
A source told Axios a single 5G network is needed to protect the country, but Republican members of the FCC disagree.
“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,” Pai said in a statement Monday.
The FCC chairman said he would oppose any plan for the federal government to nationalize the 5G network, and said the government should instead urge the private sector to develop and deploy the next generation of wireless.
“The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades — including American leadership in 5G — is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,” Pai continued.
Michael O’Rielly, another Republican FCC commissioner, also slammed the proposal reportedly under consideration by the Trump administration.
“I’ve seen lead balloons tried in D.C. before but this is like a balloon made out of a Ford Pinto,” he said. “If accurate, the Axios story suggests options that may be under consideration by the administration that are nonsensical and do not recognize the current marketplace.”
O’Rielly said wireless companies are already taking steps to develop the infrastructure for 5G, and he vowed to “do everything in my power to provide the necessary resources, including allocating additional spectrum and pre-empting barriers to deployment, to allow this private sector success to continue.”
Like his fellow Republican commissioners, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called the notion of the federal government building a running a 5G network a “non-starter.”
“We will lead in 5G by reducing regulation and freeing up the private sector to invest and deploy next-generation networks,” Carr said. “That is why we are already taking steps to ensure that our regulatory frameworks are 5G ready.”