More than 30 conservative groups and think tanks are joining the chorus of lawmakers warning against any effort by the Pentagon to create a government-run, national 5G network that would duplicate, or even replace, industry efforts. Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that the Pentagon could speed its recent request for information, according to Politico.
The Defense Department issued the RFI on September 18 from industry, seeking insight into accelerating spectrum sharing and 5G deployment. Nineteen senators recently called on the President to support private-sector 5G deployment, concerned about the DoD RFI they feel contradicts a free-market strategy.
“Rather than rely on private industry and market forces to foster multiple, facilities-based 5G networks, the RFI seeks information on a government-managed process for 5G networks,” the senators wrote in the letter last week, led by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. “Nationalizing 5G and experimenting with untested models for 5G deployment is not the way the United States will win the 5G race.”
GOP Sens. John Barrasso (WY), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), John Cornyn (TX), Ron Johnson (WI), and Marco Rubio (FL), among others, also signed the letter, reported The Hill. “While we recognize the need for secure communications networks for our military, we are concerned that such a proposal threatens our national security. When bad actors only need to penetrate one network, they have a greater likelihood of disrupting the United States’ communications services,” they stated.
The senators also urged Trump to remain on a free-market path to enable the U.S. to win the global 5G race.
The Defense Department has several locations for 5G testing and experimentation.
“Taxpayers should not foot the bill for something that the private sector is already committed to doing through a free market approach,” wrote groups including Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union and Heritage Action.