March 22, 2018

Government 5G Network Unlikely, Despite Reports

30 January 2018, 01:23 | Yvette Williams

By Steve Holland and Pete Schroeder

By Steve Holland and Pete Schroeder

The top USA communications regulator on Monday said he opposed an idea by some security officials to counter the threat of China spying on US phone calls by having the government build and run a national, super-fast 5G wireless network.

A PowerPoint presentation and a memo, allegedly produced by a senior US National Security Council official, indicate two ways of putting these aspirations into practice. The reason for this is quite simple; the US government does not want foreign countries to compromise the security of these networks, which at this point is China.

That 5G plan would see the federal government take over such infrastructure roll-out over the next few years from USA mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon Communications and T-Mobile.

More: 5G: What is it? A federally owned network would turn the entire "net neutrality" debate on its head, for instance, as lawyers debate what a public network's First Amendment responsibilities would be to service providers and content providers alike.

In December previous year, when President Trump unveiled his National Security Strategy, he said: "We improve America's digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide". "They're smart, they're aggressive, and they're not to be underestimated", he said. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.

Also earlier this month, the $1.2 billion sale of money-transfer service Moneygram to Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, was blocked by the US committee that reviews foreign acquisitions of USA companies.

The document claims that "the current algorithm battles are slowly drifting in China's favor as companies like Google build Al research centers inside China's information sphere and world class data scientists mine the data (ours and theirs) without restraint".

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Some analysts, however, expect that plan to backfire on the U.S. and slow down the country's deployment of the latest advance in mobile technology. "I think U.S. consumers will have a lot of questions to ask". Unfortunately, the document says that this approach could take longer than three years and cost more in the end. An alternative to the government building the network itself would be to work with some kind of private consortium, he said.

The US mobile has been working on deploying 5G networks for years, with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US investing heavily. We'd add that a lot of the security depends on the network equipment, not who's running it.

For one thing, it's the Federal Communications Commission that serves as the government's steward of the wireless airwaves that power 5G and myriad other uses for smartphones, tablets and similar mobile devices.

FCC commissioners of both parties criticized the proposal.

5G will also mean much lower latency, or the time taken for the network to recognize that a user has requested a chunk of data and to start sending that data.

In 2012, concern about possible Chinese interference in the United States led government authorities to issue a report describing Huawei Technologies Co.

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