Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 16 News List

US unveils plans to push 5G deployment

COUNTRY FOCUS:FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the goal was to allow ‘Americans to be the first to benefit’ from upgrades, while it does not want rural areas left behind

AFP, WASHINGTON

Ivanka Trump, right, assistant to US President Donald Trump, speaks at an event at the White House in Washington on Friday.

Photo: Bloomberg

US officials unveiled plans to accelerate deployment of 5G wireless networks, including new funding to bring the ultrafast systems to remote rural areas.

At a White House event, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new spectrum auctions for 5G systems and said a US$20.4 billion fund would be established to help build high-speed broadband networks in rural areas over the next decade.

The new 5G networks “will improve Americans’ lives in so many ways,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

“From precision agriculture to smart transportation networks to telemedicine and more, we want Americans to be the first to benefit from this new digital revolution, while protecting our innovators and citizens,” Pai said.

“And we don’t want rural Americans to be left behind,” he said.

The announcement comes amid an intense race by countries to deploy the technology offering wireless speeds 10 to 100 times faster than currently available.

Earlier this month, South Korea launched what it said was the first nationwide 5G network, while US carriers rolled out 5G in some locations. China is also moving quickly on 5G.

Friday’s announcement confirms that the US would rely on private networks, despite speculation it would seek to nationalize 5G on national security grounds.

Officials offered no new information on what, if any, actions it would take to block Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) — the largest supplier of networking equipment from 5G systems in the US.

Amid concerns over Huawei’s links to the Chinese government, the FCC is mulling regulations to block the firm from networks in the US.

The new funding could be used to help cash-strapped rural carriers, which have been considering the Chinese giant.

US President Donald Trump said at the event that 5G is a priority for his administration.

“American companies must lead the world in cellular technology... Networks must be secured. They must be strong. They have to be guarded from the enemy. We do have enemies out there,” Trump said.

Harold Feld at the consumer group Public Knowledge said it was not clear whether the funding for rural broadband would be new or simply taken from an existing program.

“Is the administration promising to provide new money for rural broadband through existing authority, or is the administration going to need to ask [the US] Congress to provide new money?” Feld asked in a statement.

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