While the administration is not considering nationalizing the nation's wireless infrastructure, officials are moving ahead with discussions to build a 5G network outside of the traditional wireless carriers, according to people familiar with the matter.
The second plan would recruit the help of wireless providers to build their own 5G networks, which would compete with one another. Its say is not final on these matters - and its memo does not appear to have gained traction with other tech-focused arms of the White House, according to multiple sources within the Trump administration.
The documents include a PowerPoint deck and a memo, reportedly produced by a senior National Security Council advisor, which have been presented recently to other federal agencies.
"We believe that the worldwide community should, on the basis of mutual respect and trust, strengthen dialogue and cooperation and join hands in addressing the threat of cyber attacks", she said.
Whether or not the proposal is serious, if this is how key elements of the government feel about Huawei, it's no wonder the phone maker's deal to sell its Mate 10 Pro with AT&T fell apart. Ltd. and ZTE Corp.
Telecomm giant, AT&T, has been working on developing this new technology, announcing that, "Industry standards have been set, trials have been underway since 2016, and later this year AT&T is set to be the first to launch mobile 5G service in 12 USA locations".
United States hostility toward Huawei and ZTE appears to have risen since Trump became president.
But any plan would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, require the government to obtain spectrum and raises questions whether Americans would want to buy service from a government entity, wireless carriers said.
Then, in mid-January, Texan Congressman and staunch Trump supporter Mike Conaway proposed new legislation that would prohibit United States authorities from buying any product or service from the Chinese companies. T-Mobile US (TMUS), controlled by Germany's Deutsche Telekom (DTEGY), and Softbank-owned Sprint (S), also plan to offer 5G services.
The Trump administration's 5G plan comes on the heels of the scuttled smartphone distribution deal in the U.S. between Huawei Technologies and AT&T because of U.S. security concerns.
A centralized, secure national 5G network could be built within three years and represent "the 21st century equivalent of the Eisenhower National Highway System", according to the memo acquired by Axios. Such a move would clearly undermine the investments those operators are making, and the business models they have used.
More: 5G: What is it?
Axios said the primary motivation behind a nationalized 5G network would be to keep USA networks secure from the Chinese government.
Government control of 5G infrastructure would be unprecedented and highly controversial, as the industry has traditionally been privately controlled.
I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network.
China investments in 5G mobile networks are expected to reach 2.8 trillion yuan (US$443 billion) in the period from 2020 to 2030, according to a study published previous year by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.