GOP Senators Ask President to Oppose Nationalizing 5G

(Image credit: Dong Wenjie via Getty Images)

Some powerful Republican Senators are taking strong issue with a Trump Administration request for input on a government-managed 5G network.

That came in a letter to President Trump from 19 senators, led by Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Communications Subcommittee.

That makes the feeling bipartisan and mutual. House Democrats two weeks ago pushed back on nationalized 5G.

Related: Pai Opposes Nationalized 5G Net

The senators tread carefully, opening their letter with praise for the President's leadership in the race to 5G and the "free market path" he has so far taken before saying that a Department of Defense request for information (RIF) on such a government-managed network worked against the President's objectives.

"Nationalizing 5G and experimenting with untested models for 5G deployment is not the way the United States will win the 5G race," they told the President. But they suggested it is the way to make 5G more vulnerable to attack. "When bad actors only need to penetrate one network, they have a greater likelihood of disrupting the United States communications services."

Kelly Cole, senior VP of government affairs, for telecom association CTIA, backed up the letter, quoting Trump's own words. “We commend Senator Thune and his 18 Senate colleagues for their continued leadership and commitment to a free market approach to building the 5G economy," said Cole. "As President Trump has said, a nationalized 5G network ‘won’t be as good, nearly as fast.’ He is right, and thanks to this Administration’s support for auctioned spectrum and private sector solutions, we benefit from multiple nationwide 5G networks today.”

Amid similar concerns last year about nationalizing the net to ensure its security from foreign attacks, the President signaled that he favored a private sector-driven approach.

Among the other senators signing on to the letter were Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.