FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to oppose the federal government's attempts to build and run a 5G network

The head of the US Federal Communications Commission on Monday said he would oppose a federal government move to build and run a national, super-fast 5G wireless network, calling any such effort “costly and counterproductive.”

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Image: Reuters

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Image: Reuters

“Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that President Donald Trump’s national security team was looking at options to counter the threat of China spying on US phone calls that include the government building a super-fast 5G wireless network, citing a senior administration official.

The official, confirming the gist of a report from Axios.com, said the option was being debated at a low level in the administration and was six to eight months away from being considered by the president himself.

The 5G network concept is aimed at addressing what officials see as China’s threat to US cybersecurity and economic security. But any plan would likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars, require the government to obtain the spectrum and raises questions whether Americans would want to buy service from a government entity, wireless carriers said.

Pai, a Republican named FCC chairman by Trump in January 2017, has backed 5G and looked for ways to help eliminate barriers to private sector adoption.

CTIA, the trade group that represents AT&T Inc, Verzion Communications Inc, Apple Inc, Sprint Corp and others, said in a statement the “government should pursue the free market policies that enabled the US wireless industry to win the race to 4G.”

Updated Date: Jan 29, 2018 22:37 PM