GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G

GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G
© Greg Nash

A group of 19 senators is calling on President TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? MORE to bolster private-sector deployment of 5G, expressing concerns about a request for information from the administration that they felt contradicted a free-market strategy.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, led a letter to Trump on Wednesday following a recent request for information (RFI) released by the Pentagon regarding 5G. 

“Rather than rely on private industry and market forces to foster multiple, facilities-based 5G networks, the RFI seeks information on a government-managed process for 5G networks,” the senators wrote. “Nationalizing 5G and experimenting with untested models for 5G deployment is not the way the United States will win the 5G race.”

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The Defense Department issued the RFI on Sept. 18 from industry, seeking insight into accelerating spectrum sharing and 5G deployment.

“While we recognize the need for secure communications networks for our military, we are concerned that such a proposal threatens our national security.  When bad actors only need to penetrate one network, they have a greater likelihood of disrupting the United States’ communications services,” they wrote. 

The senators also urged Trump in the letter to remain on a free-market path to enable the U.S. to win the global 5G race. 

The Federal Communications Commission said this month it will approve use of mid-band spectrum solely for 5G, although the Pentagon said in August that mid-band spectrum will be available for 5G “by the end of the summer.” 

The Defense Department has several locations for 5G testing and experimentation.

“DoD recognizes that industry is driving 5G technology with massive investments in the many hundreds of billions of dollars. Because of that, DoD is working closely with industry partners to leverage those investments for military applications,” DoD official Joseph Evans said at a press conference in June.