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White House orders Commerce to develop 5G strategy

White House orders Commerce to develop 5G strategy
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE on Thursday signed a new directive ordering his administration to explore ways to speed up the private sector's deployment of 5G wireless networks.

The new presidential memorandum directs the Department of Commerce to develop a national strategy to free up the spectrum needed to roll out the next generation of wireless.

"The steps outlined in this Presidential Memo make it clear that America intends to remain the world leader in next-generation wireless networks," White House spokesman Michael Kratsios said in a call with reporters. "We will prioritize efforts to accelerate the private sector’s development of 5G, so that the American people can reap the rewards of this incredible technology."

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While 5G is still years away from being fully developed, policymakers in Washington have been laying the groundwork to push for the highly-touted wireless upgrade.

And, despite skepticism in some corners, the administration and the private sector are framing the 5G rollout as a race to beat China to the economic benefits they believe the new networks will bring. The White House has emphasized that the 5G rollout will have national security implications as well.

Earlier this year, Trump cited national security concerns in blocking Broadcom, a technology giant that was based in Singapore at the time, from pulling off a hostile takeover of the San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm. He cited national security officials' concerns that the merger would hurt U.S. businesses' investments in 5G research and development.

And a leaked presentation published by Axios earlier this year showed that the White House had considered a plan to nationalize 5G wireless to secure it against possible Chinese interference. But that proposal doesn't appear to have gone anywhere.

"We very much see this as a private-sector driven, free-enterprise driven, rollout," an administration official said on a call with reporters Thursday.

Trump's new directive doesn't call for any new funds or congressional action. It essentially orders a series of reports from executive branch agencies to outline their spectrum requirements to the Department of Commerce, which will then come up with a strategy for more efficient uses of the airwaves.

The order also eliminates two previous spectrum memos issued by the Obama White House.