President Trump announced Friday a new wireless spectrum auction to accelerate the deployment of the next generation of wireless communication networks, a technology that the administration considers essential to win an economic war with China.
Yet, until now, Trump has remained silent on whether the US would issue an order barring Chinese companies such as Huawei from building these networks.
Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced Friday at the White House the third and largest spectrum auction that telecommunication companies will use to build "fifth generation" networks, or 5Gs, that promise an increase important of the display speed. downloading data over cellular networks.
The deployment of these networks, both in cities and in rural areas, essentially requires rebuilding the country's cell networks and switching systems. With time, the evolution towards the new architecture promises to transform the operation of billions of "Internet of Things" devices – such as autonomous cars and industrial sensors -, enabling faster and more transparent connectivity.
The Trump administration sees this next-generation technology as critical to the US's ability to dominate tomorrow's industries and fuel their long-term economic prospects. He considers China's ability to control these networks as a threat to national security, as it could, at least theoretically, give Beijing access to the information that passes through them.
"Secure 5G networks will be a vital link to the prosperity and national security of the United States in the 21st century," Trump said Friday.
But Chinese telecoms companies, such as Huawei, are about to dominate because they offer the cheapest, and what some European and Asian officials consider to be one of the best, the equipment to provide the technical backbone 5G networks. There is no US supplier for the major switching networks, which means that the US systems will be largely built by companies like Nokia and Ericsson, both European.
The administration has long been considering a decree banning US telecommunications companies from using Huawei or other Chinese equipment for the construction of 5G networks. But this executive order has not materialized, which suggests to many officials and leaders of the sector that the administration retains until the completion of the current trade negotiations with the government. China. Any initiative to ban Chinese companies in the United States could anger Chinese leaders.
It is possible that Trump will allow some Chinese to enter the US market – despite national security concerns – to conclude a trade deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Even without the ban, the Trump administration has adopted a hard line with its allies, telling them that allow Huawei to build and maintain 5G systems, even if they were operated by Western companies, could give Beijing an undetectable back door to wireless networks.
The fear is that the Chinese government could absorb and copy data circulating on wireless networks, which could compromise this information and, theoretically, jeopardize trade secrets and military intelligence. Although much of this data is encrypted, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies believe that giving Chinese companies control over their data flow is a major risk.
But for Trump, 5G is an election issue as much as a security issue. Speaking to the White House, surrounded by wireless service company workers wearing cowboy hats and safety helmets, Mr. Trump said that the United States could not afford to go out of business. be "overwhelmed" by 5G networks.
"The 5G race is a race America needs to win," said Trump. "And this is a race in which our big companies are participating now. We gave them the incentive they need. It's a race that we will win. "
The Trump administration had envisioned a plan that would have created 5G national networks using federal funds. Trump said Friday that this approach was rejected and that the private sector would develop US 5G networks.
Mr. Trump did not make any mention of China or Chinese companies such as Huawei, although he stated that 5G networks needed to be "protected from the enemy – and we have enemies over there".
Mr. Trump has also repeatedly stated that he would extend broadband access to rural America. "No matter where you are, you will have very quick access to 5G, and it will be a different life," said Trump.
Critics of the administration's approach said that the technology adopted by the US was too broadband-focused, which would complicate the provision of 5G service in rural America.
Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat candidate for the FC, criticized Trump's 5G administration policy, saying she had done "more harm than good."
"That it imposes tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies for the safety of 5G and that it is left behind by the rest of the world on a critical median frequency spectrum, it does not make any difference." still has not proposed a viable plan for US leadership, "she said. says on Twitter.
The United States has auctioned other parts of the broadband electromagnetic spectrum to companies that need to communicate with a new generation of cell phones and things Internet devices.
Some experts believe that the United States should focus more on developing the spectrum of the medium band, not the high band. The high band allows more data, but has a much smaller scope, which means that providers need to build a lot more 5G towers. It also means that a 5G system based on the high-bandwidth spectrum is more difficult to implement in rural areas.
Other parts of the world, particularly in Asia, have focused their development on 5G on the mid-band spectrum, which covers a larger area, but with less capacity.
"It is essential that we now move to the middle of the band because the rest of the world could leave us behind," Rosenworcel said in an interview. "This is the spectrum that is most likely to bring 5G service to rural areas of this country, and we need to think about investing in it now and not later."