Trump's Commerce chief: Building a 5G network is a priority

Trump's Commerce chief: Building a 5G network is a priority
© Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Turkey in crisis as lira hits new low | Watchdog calls for Wilbur Ross stock probe | CBO downgrades growth projection for 2018 Watchdog accuses Wilbur Ross of violating conflict of interest laws, calls for probe into finances FCC commissioner: US in 'great shape' in 5G network race with China, other countries MORE said Tuesday that building a 5G mobile broadband network is a chief concern for the Trump administration.

The remarks come as Sprint and T-Mobile push for a merger that they argue would help bolster the United States's development of a high-speed 5G network.

“I think the pitch that Sprint and T-Mobile are making is an interesting one, that their merger would propel Verizon and AT&T into more active pursuit of 5G,” Ross said during an interview with CNBC.

“Whoever pursues it, whoever does it, we’re very much in support of 5G. We need it. We need it for defense purposes, we need it for commercial purposes,” he continued.

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T-Mobile and Sprint announced their plans for a merger on Sunday in a deal that would combine the nation's third- and fourth-largest telecom companies.

As part of the effort, which will have to be approved by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, the companies said they will invest a combined $40 billion over the next three years to get their networks ready for 5G.

The wireless industry has pushed aggressively for the Trump administration and Congress to aid in the “race to 5G,” which they argue will help the U.S. gain an economic advantage over other countries pursuing such networks, like China.

“We didn’t win the race with 3G, but we got our act together with 4G. Now app developments are all happening here,” Meredith Attwell Baker, the president of CTIA, a trade association that lobbies on behalf of wireless telecommunications companies, told The Hill earlier this year.

“I think we are the world’s mobile leader because of our global lead,” she argued, saying that the United States's development of a 5G network would help preserve its top spot.