A Powerpoint presentation that is among the documents Axios obtained says that "China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure" and that "China is the dominant malicious actor in the information domain".
The documents suggest two options for how a centralized nationwide 5G network would be built and paid for.
The administration was seeking to partner with a technology company outside of the traditional telecom industry because officials believe that a fast build of the network would require such a large amount of broadband that awarding it to a single telecom company would amount to giving a government granted monopoloy to one of the big players.
One option would be for the U.S. government to pay for and build the network, another would be to rent access to services provided by existing carriers. This push, seen by industry leaders as a national security policy as much as a tech policy, is an effort to build out America's wireless infrastructure without Chinese infiltration.
While a secondary plan is available, a source that is familiar with the matter states that there is a huge possibility that the second option is removed from the table altogether. Access to the network would then be rented to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Each of the four nationwide cell phone carriers - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint - are developing and testing 5G network technology.
Edison Lee, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said that plan "will only spark new debate in the USA, which would give China even more advantage in its goal to become a leader in 5G". In the model now under consideration, the owner of the network would not directly provide telecommunications services to consumers.
China early this month warned that American protectionism was on the rise after congressional documents showed that Chinese tech giant Huawei's designs on the USA market were causing national security concerns in Washington. "Other options under consideration include more private sector control but still greater federal government involvement than now is contemplated by the market".
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Pai, named FCC chairman by Trump in January 2017, has backed 5G and looked for ways to help eliminate barriers to private sector adoption.
Earlier this month, AT&T dropped a deal that would see the carrier offer its customers handsets built by China's Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators.
Government control of 5G infrastructure would be unprecedented and highly controversial, as the industry has traditionally been privately controlled. (NYSE: T), which operates one of the biggest networks in the USA, recently collapsed after security concerns were raised during negotiations, according to a Reuters report.
This month, 5G cleared a significant hurdle when 3GPP, an worldwide wireless consortium, approved a technology standard for next-generation networks.
The focus of the plan would be to counter the rising influence of Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, as Washington steps up restrictions on the role the two can play in the United States market.