President Trump today appeared to back away from the notion that the Federal government ought to invest in a “wholesale” 5G wireless network, and instead backed policy that commits to “efficient spectrum use and spurring private-sector investment in 5G networks.”

A possibly greater role for the Federal government in 5G networks surfaced in February in the form of a statement from the President’s campaign suggesting support for a “wholesale” 5G network involving the Federal government making necessary spectrum available for sharing by wireless carriers, with a goal of reducing service costs and providing service to more Americans. The campaign later appeared to back away from the suggestion, with a spokesperson saying there was “no daylight” between President Trump and his campaign organization.

Speaking at the White House today regarding 5G network deployment, the President said, “In the United States our approach is private-sector driven and private-sector led. The government doesn’t have to spend lots of money,” according to a Reuters report.

“As you probably heard, we had another alternative of doing it that would be through government investment and leading through the government. We don’t want to do that because it won’t be nearly as good, nearly as fast,” the President was quoted as saying.

Last month, three senior senators introduced a bill that would require the White House to develop a strategy to ensure the security of 5G wireless systems and infrastructure, but would also block the executive branch from recommending that 5G or subsequent generations of mobile communications infrastructure be “nationalized” by the government.

The bill, dubbed the “Secure 5G and Beyond Act,” was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman and ranking member of the committee.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.