Diane Katz, Dean Cheng
Security, North America
It could lead to big trouble.
National security officials reportedly are considering federal funding and construction of a faster, higher capacity nationwide wireless network to counter a similar effort by the Chinese government. But expanding government interference in telecommunications would not advance national security or technological innovation.
According to Axios.com, a memo and PowerPoint presentation crafted by an unnamed senior official of the National Security Council urges the Trump administration to take “extraordinary efforts to counter the growing economic and political threat from China’s aggressive efforts to develop 5G.”
The term “5G” refers to fifth-generation wireless broadband technology. The service would expand wireless network capacity and increase transmission speeds—both of which could facilitate emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and the growing demand for video services.
The National Security Council memo reportedly asserts that “China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure,” and “China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.”
Therefore, the memo states, the United States must build a nationwide 5G network within three years to counteract economic and cybersecurity threats from China. The best way to do this, the memo reportedly argues, is for the government to build a network. It would then rent access to carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
There is no national security risk from a 5G network in China. The real threat to the U.S. is the federal government’s failure to secure American telecommunications networks.
Those in the administration considering such a policy ought to abide the lessons of history.