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In leaked memo, Trump admin considers building national 5G network

Could the Trump White House fast-track a national 5G network? Not so fast.

A machine built at NYU Tandon measuring the strength of 5G signals. (Photo by Tyler Woods)

The Trump administration is mulling the idea of building national, government-owned 5G wireless infrastructure, according to a piece in Axios, which it says obtained an administration PowerPoint presentation.

Due to fears of falling behind China in the digital world, the government outlined the positives of building a national network, a la the national highway building of the Eisenhower administration, which it would then lease to telecoms like AT&T and Verizon.

Currently, just about every major carrier is working on some type of 5G technology, as well as some in academia, such as NYU Tandon’s own NYU Wireless program, but estimates for the rollout of nationwide private 5G networks are still years and years away.

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Monday morning, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai came out strongly opposed to the idea of a government-built 5G network, saying in a statement that “Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction.”

The speed of 5G technology is the foundation for many of the technologies being dreamed up now. With data speeds expected to exceed 1 gbps and perhaps get all the way up to 10 gbps, the wires can be removed from everything. The Internet of Things may come on in a big way, autonomous cars will have a reliable medium on which to talk to each other and factory robots currently standing in an assembly line would be able to get up and move around the factory floor.

But the technology is not simple. To achieve a 5G network, carriers must be able to broadcast and receive data on new parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. There is tons of space open and unused on the spectrum, but that’s because much of it has problems, such as weak signals that would get blocked by buildings and hills. Researchers are hard at work on figuring out alternate systems for making it work.

Read more on NYU Tandon and 5G technology
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