Trump says America must win race to build 5G

A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on Friday the agency plans to hold its third 5G spectrum auction on December 10, the latest effort to make more spectrum available for higher-speed service that could transform significant sectors of the USA economy.

Surrounded by workers in hardhats and men and women in cowboy hats who Trump identified as farmers, the president said, "We can not allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future".

The U.S. government will hold a massive auction to bolster 5G service, the next generation of mobile networks, and plans to spend $20 billion to expand broadband access in rural areas.

5G will mean faster wireless speeds and has implications for technologies like self-driving cars and augmented reality.

But experts say it's hard to know now how much life will actually change because of the much-hyped network upgrade. The rollout started last week in the USA and South Korea but will take years.

Since November, the FCC has auctioned 1,550 megahertz of spectrum to be used by commercial wireless providers for 5G connectivity.

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"As you probably heard, we had another alternative of doing it, that would be through government investment, and leading through the government, we don't want to do that because it won't be almost as good, almost as fast", Trump said.

Verizon, one of America's largest telecommunications companies, announced on April 3 the official operation of its commercial 5G network in two USA cities, making it the world's first commercial 5G mobile service for customers with 5G-equipped smartphones.

The decision to omit mention of China lines up with an apparent switch in strategy that senior administration officials have pursued in recent weeks, advocating a "country and company" agnostic policy when it comes to 5G security. The U.S. has pushed its allies to do the same, with mixed results.

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

"So far this Administration's interventions on 5G have done more harm than good", said Rosenworcel. By next year, Mr. Trump claimed, the USA should boast more 5G spectrum than any other country.

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.

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