Will Trump Nationalize America’s 5G Network?

By Nick G. Foster

January 30, 2018

Surprising news was announced from a leaked PowerPoint deck and a memo from a senior National Security Council official. The information obtained announced the Trump administration is considering a plan to nationalize the United States’ upcoming 5G wireless network, in an effort to guard against cyber security threats from China.

This announcement came from the website Axios who reportedly obtained the sensitive documents.  The memo states that America needs a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years and presents two options:

  • The US government pays for and builds the single network. The only way to build an entire 5G network in three years would be for the US government to nationalize the existing telecom companies. To start from scratch without nationalizing companies would take at least ten years. US carriers have been building out their network for over two decades and they are still building new sites.
  • The other option would be for the existing wireless providers to build their own 5G network. This plan is already in the pipeline for existing US carriers, however, it is on their own time table. As a result, this would take longer and it would unlikely be accomplished within three years.

If time is of the essence, then option 2 is off the table. That leaves the Trump administration with the idea of nationalization.

How Does The Head of The FCC Feel About This?

Ajit Pai
Former Verizon in-house legal counsel and current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is obviously not in favor. His tweet from yesterday echoes the GOP position on the issue, however, it is interesting this idea was presented by a Republican Administration in the first place. It would be no surprise if the idea came from Bernie Sanders, but from a Republican Administration?

What Is The Feasibility Of The Idea?

I was watching Fast Money on CNBC yesterday and a talking head said there is a “zero point zero chance this happens”. I have to agree with the notion that it is highly unlikely that Trump will build a nationwide 5G network – and especially within three years’ time.

What Do You Think?

Leave A Comment Below

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  1. Steve on August 9, 2018 at 10:21 am

    If the US government is looking to help the 5G advancing, it should give low interest loans to the 4 major carriers and remove regulations and red tape that slows the progress. This could also avoid consolidation of carries via mergers.

    Sprint and TMUS have major investors outside the US.

    • Nick Foster on August 9, 2018 at 10:29 am


      Thank you for the comment. The FCC is very friendly to the wireless industry, some may argue too friendly.

      With the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, Sprint has billions of dollars in debt (loans) maturing. They view their only way to compete with Verizon and AT&T is through a merger, however, is having three instead of four wireless options good for the US consumer?

      You are correct that Sprint is backed by Softbank (a company headquartered in Japan) and T-Mobile is backed by Deutsche Telekom (a company headquartered in Germany).

      Nick G. Foster

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Nick Foster Airwave Advisors

About Nick G. Foster

Since founding Airwave Advisors® in 2014, Mr. Foster has added value to over 400 clients ranging from the State of Nevada, City of Beverly Hills, to Habitat For Humanity. Mr. Foster focuses on cell tower lease renewals, buyouts, new lease negotiation, and cell site lease management. Prior to starting Airwave Advisors® Mr. Foster founded and led the Cell Site Services Group within nationwide commercial real estate services leader Cassidy Turley (now known as Cushman & Wakefield).