Opinion

ELLIS: 5G – Do It Right And Do It Right Now

Curtis Ellis America First Policies
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The United Kingdom’s decision to allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei to build its next-generation 5G wireless internet network last week should be a wakeup call for America.

Huawei claims to be just another independent telecom company, but that’s not true – it’s in the espionage business, a junior partner to the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence services.

China’s 2017 Intelligence Law clearly states any “organization or citizen shall support, assist, and cooperate with” China’s security services. “The Chinese Cyber Security Law and other national strategies like ‘Military-Civil Fusion’ mean that nothing Chinese firms do can be independent of the state. Firms must support the law enforcement, intelligence, and national security interests of the Chinese Communist Party,” our most senior military and intelligence leaders wrote.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has said whoever controls 5G has the ability “to maliciously modify or steal information [and] conduct undetected espionage.”

Super-high speed 5G networks are the future, the infrastructure through which all data and information will flow, connecting people, machines, power grids and emerging technologies such as self-driving vehicles.

Whoever controls this new digital infrastructure literally controls everything, giving whoever wins the 5G race a serious military and commercial advantage.

That’s why President Trump warned any deal involving Huawei would be a “grave threat to national security” and why former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich declared the U.K.’s decision “the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II.”

China’s communist party has made 5G wireless networks a national strategic priority. But you may be surprised no American companies provide 5G equipment. Not one. And so, it is imperative for the U.S. to have a national mobilization to implement President Trump’s plan to have “5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible.”

The first step is freeing up space in a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum, known as the C-band, that is optimum for 5G signals and infrastructure. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai set a year-end goal for a license auction that would enable the current “occupants” of the C-band frequencies to sell their licenses and begin “vacating the premises.” A more detailed announcement of the FCC’s plans will reportedly come this week, and the timing could not be better considering the boost China just received from the U.K. However, the wrong terms could set the U.S. up for delays and failure.

Some decision makers want to limit how much of the auction proceeds could be spent on new satellites, equipment, and moving the current occupants of the C-band. Although the spectrum is worth around $60 billion, they want to cap payments to the license holders in the low single-digit billions – far below what would be needed to free up the space needed to ensure the auction occurs by Pai’s end of 2020 goal.

All of this is anathema to the president’s 5G vision and would prevent the goal of the auction – rapid build-out of 5G — from being realized. It would unquestionably lead to extensive litigation by anyone who feels they are being short-changed. America and the American people would be the real losers. America’s 5G network would be trapped in a courtroom for the better part of the decade while a hostile foreign power moves forward with its plan to control the information infrastructure of the world.

The FCC can’t allow any delays – not when the future of the free world is at stake and the U.S. is already lagging seriously behind the People’s Republic of China. For the sake of national security, America must catch up – and fast.

The U.K.’s plan to partner with Huawei shows what’s at stake. America must outsmart and out-innovate, not out-litigate, out-speculate and delay, the 5G build-out.

It’s said the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  We cannot afford to delay taking that first step, the auction that will clear the path for the rest of the journey.

And let’s take to heart what President Trump said about this new frontier of communications as we embark on this journey:

“We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!”

Curtis Ellis is policy director with America First Policies. He was a senior policy adviser with the Donald J. Trump campaign.