The National Security Council's reported proposal for a federally funded high-speed wireless network drew a sharp rebuke Monday morning from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.
“I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network," Pai stated. "The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades ... is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment."
The FCC chief's statement came in response to a piece in Axios, which reported Sunday that the National Security Council recently outlined a proposal for a new 5G network. The NSC reportedly floated several possibilities for the new network, including that the government should fund and build the network, and then rent access to AT&T, Verizon and other commercial carriers.
The NSC's memo about the project "argues that a strong 5G network is needed in order to create a secure pathway for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and virtual reality -- and to combat Chinese threats to America’s economic and cyber security," Axios writes.
Pai stated Monday that a federal effort to build a network "would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.”
He added that the government should instead "push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure."
The industry lobbying group USTelecom also opposed a proposal for a nationalized network. CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a statement that the best way to "future-proof" the networks is to encourage private companies to work "hand-in-glove with the rest of the internet ecosystem, and in partnership with government."