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The Trump administration is considering building a national 5G wireless network, citing China

If you wanted to get President Trump to sign off on partially nationalizing a massive U.S. industry, citing the threat from China isn’t a bad way to go about it. On Sunday, Axios reported that the Trump administration is considering building a national 5T network, in “an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation’s mobile network to guard against China.” The report includes a Power Point presentation and memo a National Security Council official produced and presented to senior officials at other agencies.

The memo envisions two options: the government pays for and builds the next-generation high-speed wireless network, renting access to private carriers; and allowing private wireless providers to build competing networks — though a source told Axios that Option 2 is a nonstarter, since “a single centralized network is what’s required to protect America against China and other bad actors.” A third option would be getting wireless carriers to build out the network in a consortium — which, Axios notes dryly, “would require them to put aside their business models to serve the country’s greater good.”

A senior administration officials confirmed the gist of the report to Reuters, saying the issue is currently being debated at low levels and is six to eight months away from being presented to Trump. “We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the official told Reuters. “We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business.” The document compares the push to President Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, including using national security concerns to overrule state and local decisions on where to place network infrastructure.

Carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are already spending billions to prepare for 5G, which will have faster speeds and greater capacity, aiding self-driving cars, remote surgeries, virtual and augmented reality, and other new technologies. Read more at Axios and Reuters.