President Donald Trump told U.S. companies that they need to work harder to build 5G networks, and that they should lead by competition — not by blocking other companies, according to reports.
“American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind,” Trump tweeted on Thursday (Feb. 21). “There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on something that is so obviously the future.”
Telecoms around the world are competing to finish and implement 5G networks, which promise speedier connections and could have implications in self-driving cars and even surgery. China slightly leads the pack, according to research by the trade group CTIA, and so does South Korea, with the U.S. lagging behind.
“I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies,” Trump said.
One of the leading companies in the world, Huawei, has been barred by Congress for fear of potential spying operations by the Chinese government.
The president’s tweets came after the Fox Network played an interview with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in which he was asked about whether the Trump administration wants to restrict Huawei.
“They are creating a real risk for these countries and their systems — the security of their people,” Pompeo said. “Europeans care deeply about their privacy. The risk to privacy from this technology is very, very real, and we’re out sharing this information.”
Pompeo said the stance against Huawei could harm diplomatic relations, and that the U.S. might have to deal with not having a military outpost in the country or even an embassy.
It’s possible, Pompeo said, “we won’t be able to work alongside them.”
Huawei Founder Ren Zhengfei said in an interview that the U.S. was making a mistake with the company and that it was working on “new equipment that is suitable for the United States.”
However, the Trump administration is reportedly working on an executive order to restrict companies like Huawei in the country.
The CTIA, which represents AT&T and Verizon, said it supports the president.
“We share the president’s commitment to leading the world in next-generation 5G wireless,” the CTIA said on Thursday. “With the administration’s continued backing, the U.S. wireless industry can bring more robust 5G networks to more communities faster.”