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President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is backtracking after pushing for government oversight over the implementation of a 5G network.
Politico revealed on Friday that members of Trump’s team, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, supported a plan to develop a government-backed 5G network to reach out to voters in rural areas who still lack decent internet service.
“A 5G wholesale market would drive down costs and provide access to millions of Americans who are currently underserved,” Trump 2020 national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Politico Friday.“This is in line with President Trump’s agenda to benefit all Americans, regardless of geography.”
However, Trump’s campaign team backtracked from the statement Sunday.
Parscale had advocated for the policy on Twitter, but the campaign made it clear that his advocacy of wholesale 5G was his own personal opinion.
5G is the next generation of wireless service. The position the campaign promoted Friday would mean that the government would “own” the 5G airwaves, then share them with wireless providers.
The news echoed a leaked memo from 2018, in which the National Security Council advocated for a government-backed 5G set-up to protect the airwaves from Chinese spying, Politico reported at the time. That idea was roundly criticized at the time.
According to Axios, McEnany walked back Friday’s statements, saying, “The White House sets the policy on 5G and all issues. Naturally, the campaign fully supports the president’s priorities and his policy agenda. There is no daylight between the White House and the campaign.”
In an op-ed titled, “If China dominates 5G, it will control the future,” Trump adviser Newt Gingrich argued a public-private partnership would be the best way for the U.S. to compete with China for a “carrier-neutral, wholesale-only, nationwide 5G network to be built in the next two to three years across the entire country.” The op-ed appeared in Newsweek in February.
The CTIA, which lobbies on behalf of major players in the telecommunications industry, wrote in a post published on February 22nd, “We reaffirmed our faith in that most American of principles – competition in a free and open market.”
Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.