WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is set to hold a White House event on Friday with the country’s top communications regulator on next-generation 5G wireless networks and efforts to boost rural broadband internet access.
A White House spokesman confirmed that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Trump would deliver remarks on 5G deployment. Pai is expected to announce additional funds to help rural areas that lack broadband get access to the high-speed service, officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The FCC did not immediately comment.
In August, Pai said over 700,000 rural homes and small businesses would gain first-ever high-speed internet service through the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction.
In February, Trump called on U.S. telecommunications companies to boost their work to build faster 5G wireless communications networks, saying they were lagging and at risk of being left behind other countries’ efforts.
“American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow reiterated last week that the administration opposed any effort to nationalize the U.S. 5G network and denied the United States was behind other nations in the 5G race.
“The private sector will figure things out far better than the government sector,” he said.
Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Corp, Sprint Corp and T Mobile US Inc are beginning to deploy 5G service in U.S. cities and are working to extend their networks as 5G-compatible phones slowly become available.
The Trump administration has been seeking ways to speed the deployment of faster wireless communications systems that could help a number of industries. Last year, the FCC moved to eliminate regulatory barriers to 5G deployment by capping local fees and requiring faster application reviews.
The Republican president’s administration has also been warning other countries against adopting 5G systems from Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, citing security concerns.
For more than a year, the White House has been mulling an executive order that would direct the Commerce Department to block U.S. companies from buying equipment from foreign telecommunications makers that pose significant national security risks, Reuters reported in December.
The FCC since March 2018 has also been considering rules to bar the use of funds from a government program to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a security threat to U.S. communications networks.
No action on either one of the proposals is expected on Friday.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney