Reported plan for government wireless network gets panned

FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, file photo, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai answers a question from a reporter after a meeting where commissioners voted to end net neutrality, in Washington. Telecom regulators and industry groups voiced opposition Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, to a government-built wireless network that the Trump administration is reportedly considering. Pai said that the federal government should not build and operate a nationwide 5G network. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Telecom regulators and industry groups oppose a government-built wireless network that the Trump administration is reportedly considering

NEW YORK — Telecommunications regulators and industry groups voiced opposition Monday to a government-built wireless network that the Trump administration is reportedly considering .

The news website Axios reported Sunday that national security officials may want a government-built next-generation "5G" mobile network because of concerns about China and cybersecurity. A White House spokesman referred inquiries to the National Security Council, which did not immediately respond to questions.

The telecom industry, which is powerful in Washington, is already working on 5G, which heralds better internet on smartphones as well as potential applications for self-driving cars and other new technology. The new standard is already being tested and could be widely available by 2020. AT&T has said that it expects to launch a mobile 5G service in 12 U.S. locations later this year.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican, said in a statement Monday that the federal government should not build and operate a nationwide 5G network. The agency's four other voting commissioners, both Democrats and Republicans, also criticized and expressed skepticism about such a proposal. The FCC regulates the nation's airwaves and auctions them off to phone, cable and broadcasting companies for use in networks.

The industry group USTelecom panned the idea as well.

"There is nothing that would slam the breaks more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment more quickly than the federal government stepping in to build those networks," said its president, Jonathan Spalter, in an emailed statement.

The wireless trade group CTIA said the government should stick to "free market policies."

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