White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is leaning on the Pentagon to move ahead with a plan to stand up a 5G wireless network, sources tell Axios, and the idea, despite opposition from key government and private-sector players, could well outlive the Trump administration.
Why it matters: The Department of Defense could lease out capacity to wireless carriers and other companies in need of the ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity that 5G technology promises. That prospect makes this the Trump administration’s most serious push toward a federally backed national 5G network since it first floated the idea in 2018.
What we’re hearing: Meadows has taken a strong recent interest in the idea and is behind the White House nudging the Pentagon to move it along, people familiar with the state of play said.
- DoD is gathering input until next week on whether and how to move forward with the plan, which, if it happens, would likely take the form of a private company landing a federal contract to operate a 5G network on the government’s behalf, using airwaves held by DoD.
- The upshot would be a public-private partnership analogous to FirstNet, the dedicated communications network for first responders that AT&T operates under a federal contract.
- Wireless providers are firmly opposed to the idea, viewing it as the government hand-picking a single winner in the deployment of nationwide 5G, though some in Washington believe they could change tacks and vie for the contract if DoD moves ahead with the plan.