Trump says America must win race to build 5G

A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service

"The idea of state-designed and -operated 5G networks in the US makes no sense on its own terms".

President Donald Trump says the race to build 5G is one America must win.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced Friday a $20.4 billion fund to expand rural broadband, plus the commission's third spectrum auction for 5G wireless coverage.

The actions represent the latest steps by the FCC to hasten the arrival of 5G, which will allow activities including driverless cars and remote surgery, while smart machines in homes and factories communicate via the so-called internet of things.

Pai said Friday that he hopes to start the auction in December and the fund proceeding later this year. "All kinds of industries, from agriculture to transportation to health care, will be transformed". While Trump said the new networks "have to be guarded from the enemy", an opponent that went unnamed, he also indicated speed as a top priority for rolling out 5G.

Trump said the 5G industry in the United States would be "private sector-driven and private sector-led", so the USA government does not have to spend lots of money.

Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wasn't as optimistic as her Republican counterpart.

Pai explained the technologies should give the US a "leg up" as the USA competes around the world.

Rosenworcel said the FCC has turned to high-frequency airwaves that don't carry signals far, causing high network-construction costs because antennas need to be close together. "We don't want rural Americans to be left behind".

To pay for it, Pai said the agency plans to repurpose money from the Universal Service Fund.

Trump disavowed a draft plan that surfaced past year from his administration urging heavy federal involvement in the next generation of fast mobile networks. The chairman said, "We believe that the security and reliability of 5G is absolutely important, not just as a matter of national competitiveness, but also as a matter of national security". Amid a cooling trade war and an global community that remains undecided on how to deal with Huawei, which provides low-priced and high-quality technology to rural and developing regions, the administration has hesitated in outright banning the Chinese technology by executive order. Pai said that proposal is still pending.

"This is a critical tool toward closing the digital divide and it will provide some of the critical infrastructure to connecting rural Americans with 5G technologies", said Pai.

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