Peter Ferrara: Congress Shouldn’t Obstruct the Trump 5G Plan


Will Congress get in the way of the Trump administration’s quest to keep America safe by ensuring China doesn’t become the world’s gatekeeper of 5G?

The American people are about to find out.

President Donald Trump recognizes the importance of the U.S. becoming the world’s leader in 5G, both for economic and national security reasons.

As Steve Forbes wrote: “Getting to 5G first matters. It is hardly an overstatement to say that the country that wins the race to 5G will have the inside track on becoming the world’s most competitive and prosperous economy.”

Indeed, within 15 years, 5G will produce up to $13.2 trillion in global economic output and create over 20 million new jobs.

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And yet, before the Trump administration got involved, China was the only country taking developing 5G infrastructure seriously.

This should concern anyone who knows anything about China. The country wants to be the world’s gatekeeper of 5G because it sees it as a way of achieving economic dominance. And, of course, economic dominance becomes synonymous with military dominance over time.

China’s devices already have secret access points that allow China to see what the civilians and military in the U.S. and other countries are doing.

As reported by The Washington Times, “Finite State, a cybersecurity research firm, conducted a survey of Huawei equipment (the leading Chinese manufacturer) and discovered that 55% of Huawei hardware devices it tested contained at least one backdoor access point.”

Do you agree that the U.S. cannot allow China to take the lead in 5G technology?

It’s bad enough that the country is producing these capabilities for itself. Even worse is that it’s providing its 5G infrastructure to less developed countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

Newt Gingrich explained how Belt and Road works:

“China offers large loans to smaller, poorer countries in exchange for the country’s bolstering of Beijing’s strategic interests. Then, China takes control of the assets built with the money — ports, air fields, etc. — when the smaller countries can’t cover the debt.”

If the U.S. doesn’t act fast, these bugged Chinese devices will be installed all over the world.

Trump understands how devastating that would be to national security, which is why he proposed that Congress work with the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Association to get the U.S. ready for 5G.

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But the U.S. will never be able to create its needed 5G infrastructure if it doesn’t clear out the spectrum space. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed doing so last week.

By Dec. 8, he wants to start repurposing the C-Band, which has enough low-, mid- and high-range frequencies to make 5G hum in the United States.

The FCC will vote on the Pai plan by the end of the month to allow the U.S. to begin working towards 5G dominance by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, however, members of Congress’ dirty hands might destroy the Pai plan before the FCC ever implements it.

At the top of the list of obstructionists is Sen. John Kennedy. Stating that the FCC “can … un-vote later, or we can pass a bill and un-vote for ’em,” the Louisiana Republican is prepared to stymie through the legislative branch the significant progress the Trump administration is making to protect the U.S. from China.

Kennedy would like to propose legislation, which he believes will override the FCC, to cut the funding requested by Pai to from $9 billion to $1 billion — a number that won’t even adequately cover the relocation costs of the current occupants of the C-Band.

Given that the C-band is worth close to, if not more than, $60 billion, it wouldn’t make any sense not to provide fair market compensation to those that surrender their space to make way for 5G.

Short-changing is a formula for litigation that will keep America from realizing 5G on the timeline it needs it.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board wrote, Pai’s compromise “to repurpose satellite spectrum … could accelerate 5G by years — if only Republican politicians would now stand down.”

Most Americans — 84 percent — agree with the Trump administration on the importance of beating China in the 5G deployment race. It’s time for Congress to get on the same page.

The last thing this country needs is more delay that allow China to get even further ahead in this race for military and economic superiority.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Peter Ferrara teaches economics at King’s College in New York, and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Heartland Institute and at the National Taxpayer Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.