A National Security Council Memo Says US Should Counter China With 5G

national security council memo
The National Security Council memo wants the US government to counter China by adopting Chinese policies.

A new memo claims that the United States government will run a government-funded network which would keep the United States of America safe from all sorts of foreign attacks.

According to a new leaked NSC (National Security Council) memo from the White House, the United States government should take steps to guard against foreign influence in various industries.

The memo advises that the United States government should give some consideration to building and then operating a nation-wide government-owned national 5G mobile network.

According to the memo, the United States government should do that in order to boost the country’s security.

And of course, reduce reliance on equipment that comes from countries such as China.

The memo also advises the United States government to ensure that the United States retains its technological lead and/or advantage over all other countries of the world.

The leaked memo also came with a related slide deck.

Axios managed to publish both a couple of days ago.

Some media reports are of the opinion that the memo is clearly suggesting that the Trump administration has considered a surprise shift from networks which are privately operated.

Instead, the memo suggests, the Trump administration wants to move to a nationalized infrastructure.

And perhaps that is the reason why the presentation itself carried the rather long title of :

“The Eisenhower National Highway System for the Information Age”.

What Do Other Parties Think About the National Security Council Memo Suggestions?

Media reports indicated that many industry lobby groups along with a total of five members belonging to the Federal Communications Commission have communicated their feelings about the memo’s suggestions.

All of them have criticized the memo’s recommendations.

The five Federal Communications Commission’s members and lobby groups have said that the United States of America should have no reason to stop relying continuously on the private industry.

Moreover, they have also said that private carriers all over the country have already started to build new 5G mobile networks.

What’s The Problem With Nationalization?

First off, any government-run mobile network could create/raise many concerns related to civil liberties.

Private mobile carriers across the country have shown their willingness to actually help the NSA (National Security Agency) to conduct their surveillance programs of the country’s internet traffic.

If the Trump administration does go through with the memo’s suggestions then the US could have a government-run mobile network in the very near future.

And would basically eliminate the need to ask for any kind of cooperation on part of agencies such as the National Security Agency from any private companies.

The other concern is that no one has any proof that the safety of United States internet users is something that the government considers as its top priority.

It might be the case sometimes.

But not all the times.

And that alone is enough to not go ahead with the nationalization plan.

We have already seen some indications of that in separate issues that have pertained to consumer devices instead of the country’s broadband networks.

Most of the online community in the United States already know that the United States law enforcement agencies have tried to convince technology companies such as Apple to weaken their encryption methods for many years.

These are the same encryption methods which keep the private communications of the American people private.

The National Security Council memo also said that the US needed a new network for several reasons.

The country needed a new network to prevent countries such as China from winning the technology arms race.

Moreover, the US also needed the new network in order to deter cyber attacks from other state adversaries.

But There Are Other Ways To Do That

The US government can easily achieve those objectives by trying to boost security on existing networks by imposing stricter requirements on private technology companies.

That solution would work exponentially better than the government trying to build a network on its own.

The problem with the National Security Council memo is that it claims any government operated and secure network would be the absolute best network in terms of,

  • Technical perspective
  • Performance perspective
  • Security perspective

The memo also said that if the United States government secured the new network, then national security would become a very important driver for massive deployment just like the Eisenhower Highway System.

What The Memo Doesn’t Say

The National Security Council memo does not give any recommendations on nationalizing all the existing networks (which are 4G) in the country.

Media sources have also found out that the memo said the government would allow private carriers to build their own separate 5G network.

But only within a spectrum which the government would not require for its own hypothetical government-run mobile network system.

Readers who want to read the full documents should go ahead right now and click here.

Gutenberg Press And The Era of 5G Networks

Some reports say that at least internally, the National Security Council might have already scaled back some of the memo’s conclusions.

A new site recently reported that a source that had experience with document’s drafting informed Axios that the leaked memo represented an old draft.

The same source also told Aiox that the newer version of the memo had neutral opinions of whether the United States government should build and then own its own mobile network.

Recode also reported that several officials in the White House have already stressed the same.

They have stressed that a staff member had merely floated the nationalization idea.

Moreover, they have also said that the nationalization idea did not reflect some imminent and major policy announcement.

Additionally, Recode said that some official also said that a nationalization network might probably never come to fruition.

The Problem

The US government wants to counter China.
And Chinese influence.
The National Security Council suggests to do so via Chinese-like policies.

Right now, sources have only managed to make public the old version of the National Security Council memo.

Of course, that can change at any given time in the future.

According to some, the National Security Council rather dramatically claimed that the United States of America’s move from 4G networks to 5G networks would represent a fundamental shift as far as wireless infrastructure was concerned.

Moreover, the memo had equated the change to more like when the US invented the Gutenberg press.

In other words, the memo does not consider the move from 3G networks to 4G network the same as moving from 4G networks to 5G networks.

The memo also adds that whichever country leads in market share as well as technology for 5G deployment would likely have a tremendous advantage over other countries in ushering in areas such as,

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Machine learning
  • Massive Internet of Things

Then the memo talks about how such a country would command the absolute height of the information domain.

What Does The Author of The Memo Want?

The author of the memo has shown concern about the United States of America’s increased reliance on Chinese vendor technology.

These include technologies from companies such as ZTE and Huawei.

The National Security Council’s leaked memo clearly mentioned that based on current trajectory notably 5G in the United States of America would likely debut only on equipment which would come from just a tiny group of technology companies.

These companies would also include many Chinese suppliers.

And according to the memo, the only way to change that was for the US government to come up with information restrictions.

Restrictions which would act against Chinese suppliers inclusion in the country’s national network.

This was the only way to make sure that there weren’t as many Chinese suppliers when it came to maintaining 5G networks in the country.

Other media reports that came out earlier this month mentioned that AT&T, in actuality, backed out of a big distribution deal with another Chinese company by the name of Huawei.

Because US lawmakers had put a lot of political pressure on AT&T to refrain from doing business with Chinese technology companies.

This isn’t the first time United States officials have raised concerns about likely cyber and espionage attacks.

They have consistently maintained that companies with alleged ties to the government in China presented a threat.

In fact, they have been doing so for many years now.

The Two Options At Hand

Reports say that the National Security Council has proposed two options for the United States government.

The first option is for the US government to build and then run one single physical network.

They would do so with the help of a single block of a spectrum at 500 MHz.

The other option includes several private carriers doing their best to build their own small blocks of the same spectrum.

Regardless of the option that the US government decides to go with, the network presumably would have strong and rather special security measures and requirements.

Moreover, these networks would also eliminate or at the least reduce reliance on foreign equipment.

Especially the equipment coming from countries such as China.

Moreover, the National Security Council memo listed just one main advantage if the US government went with the private industry option.

That advantage would be that the US government would find it much easier to convince the majority of private carriers to go forward with their plan without creating much fuss.

According to media reports, the same memo claimed some other benefits as well.

It said that the government-run and operated option would provide the US with more benefits.

Additionally, it would also come with much fewer downsides.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of going with option one would be that it would take less than three years to complete the entire project.

The National Security Council memo also says that the government-run option did have the potential to offer much faster internet speeds.


Because one single network would have the opportunity to use the whole of the 500 MHz spectrum.

Negatives Of Going With The Private Carrier Option

The memo makes it clear that involving any number of private carriers would require everybody to divvy up the spectrum.

That would essentially slow down network speeds by a considerable margin.

Another story by the Wall Street Journal on the memo said that some in the White House has already concluded that there is only one option or path for the United States government to follow.

And that option or path is to go ahead and build a network.

One, single, network.


Because if they go with the multiple networks options, they would not have sufficient bandwidth.

To address that point, some have noted that the precise amount of bandwidth which each user would use up wouldn’t necessarily decrease if the US government splits up the 500 MHz network among a few competing networks.

In other words, all that the US government has to make sure is that there is an equal number of users.

On what?

On either network.

Multiple-networks will achieve the same performance levels as a single network.

But of course, the number of users has to remain the same in each case as well.

To put it in simpler terms, having one single or multiple smaller networks wouldn’t make much difference.

Especially when it comes to the average available bandwidth for each user on the network.

Some experts in the industry have said that the bandwidth would remain practically the same.

Other National Security Council Memo Claims

Security comes first for a nation like USA.
Hence, the NSC memo suggests appropriate measures.

The National Security Council memo has also claimed that the government could save a lot of time with their suggestions.


Well, by running a single government-run mobile network.

According to the memo, the US government can deploy that faster.

Moreover, a single mobile network would provide more security.

Especially when compared with multiple private networks.

The memo further added that in a given single-block scenario, they could build the network with good security.


By simply treating security as a foundational element.

That would effectively enable the US government to secure both civilian and government data.

The memo also said that such a single mobile network would offer more resiliency.

From what?

From natural disasters.

As well as physical attacks.

More Explanation On Why A Single Mobile Network Would Offer More Benefits

The National Security Council memo has gone into great detail on how government deployment would ensure faster network speeds when compared to private deployment.

It says that by building one/single block mobile network the US government could shape the 21st Century Eisenhower National Highway System.

Such a network would enable quick deployment on a truly national scale.


By making use of authorities which the cyber emergencies that people faced on a daily basis would unleash.

The memo also adds that the US government could just use existing restrictions and make them the standard for the entire nation.

A single network would enable the government to make a single spectrum easily available.


By moving a few of the current federal and commercial customers.

They could also dynamically share a dual-use spectrum.

Finally, the memo also added that if the US government does build a single mobile network instead of allowing several smaller private mobile networks, then that would lead to more efficient resource deployment.

What About Issues Such As Open Access?

Chinese suppliers want more market.
The US wants to stop them from gaining more influence in the US.
And the NSC memo suggests restricting their business in the country.

The memo mentioned that the government could lease some time back to private carriers in order for them to sell as a service even if the US government went ahead with building a single physical mobile network.

In reality, that would actually have more similarity with an older DSL model.

In that model, the law required the incumbent telephone companies to lease access to their competitors.

And that was the order of the day.

Until 2005 when the government dropped all line sharing requirements.

But we can’t really compare that model to the one where there is a single government-run mobile network.


Because in that case, the government would essentially operate the mobile network.

It would also perform the task of leasing access.

In the DSL model, a private company performed both of these tasks.

The memo also read that the current network market circumstances involved several private carriers.

And they had to compete with each other at building mobile networks.

In the case of a single block mobile network model, all retail providers would virtually share that one single network.

The Government should not expect any cooperation from the FCC

The National Security Council memo suggested that the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz spectrum for the proposed government-run network would require some help.

From whom?

From the FCC.

In other words, the Federal Communications Commission would have to ensure that spectrum’s availability.

So what’s the problem then?

The problem is that the FCC doesn’t look like it wants to help the government in that regard.

Ajit Pai, the current FCC chairman, released an official statement a day ago.

It was basically a response to the leaked memo.

He clearly said that he opposed any and all proposals for the US federal government to build a 5G network.


Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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