White House Pushes For 5G Standards and U.S. Networks

The Trump administration is working with U.S. tech companies, including AT&T, Dell and Microsoft, to develop common engineering standards for 5G telecom networks that would allow software to run on hardware from any manufacturer. In doing so, the U.S. would be able to advance 5G networks without relying on gear from China’s Huawei. White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, “the big picture concept is to have all the U.S. 5G architecture and infrastructure done by American firms, principally,” although it could also include technology from Ericsson and Nokia.

The Wall Street Journal also noted that Kudlow indicated Dell founder Michael Dell is a strong proponent of the project. Center for Strategic and International Studies technology analyst James Lewis reported that “Dell and Microsoft are now moving very rapidly to develop software and cloud capabilities that will, in fact, replace a lot of the equipment,” and pointed to Michael Dell’s statement that, “software is eating the hardware in 5G.”

However, Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner noted, “talk is a good start, but in the end it needs action.” “More funding will accelerate everything,” he added.

In January, a bipartisan group of senators proposed “tapping proceeds from the Federal Communications Commission’s coming spectrum license auctions to pay for research grants into those technologies,” but, according to Kudlow, “the administration … hasn’t yet decided whether to back them.”

Huawei, however, “benefited enormously from Beijing’s willingness to subsidize the company and block foreign competitors.” An engineering standard for 5G will also help enable the Internet of Things to become viable, and 5G advocates promote the new network standards as doing “for future tech startups what 4G technology did for smartphone apps like Uber Technologies and Snapchat.”

Dell’Oro Group reported that Huawei “is the world’s top seller of telecom equipment, followed by Nokia and Ericsson.” The U.K. permitted Huawei to contribute to its 5G network, and small rural carriers in the U.S. embrace it for “the quality of its equipment and technical support.”

Huawei chief U.S. security officer Andy Purdy stated that, “if the U.S. wants 5G hardware and software developed by a U.S. or European company, the government should encourage companies to begin negotiations with Huawei to license our 5G technology,” noting that it was one-to-two years ahead of its rivals.

WSJ notes that, “if U.S. and European companies work separately, it could take longer to develop world-beating technology … [but] if they work together, it could raise antitrust concerns.” Although Kudlow didn’t offer a timeline, “others in the government have said they expect to have a [5G] system running within 18 months.”

“We’re trying to create an American soup-to-nuts infrastructure for 5G,” said Kudlow. Despite a Department of Commerce blacklist, U.S. companies avail themselves of a loophole to supply Huawei with technology. The Pentagon also pointed out that, “if U.S. companies lose Huawei as a customer, they will have fewer profits to pour into research and development.”

Related:
U.S. 5G Security Is Imperiled by Trump Administration Infighting and Fantasies, VentureBeat, 2/6/20