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Axios claimed it has seen documents that revealed security officials stating that the US needs a centralized nationwide 5G network "to protect America against China and other bad actors".

Their second option is to hire wireless providers to build the first 5G network that will offer service without interruption and a secure digital platform (free of Chinese interference and spying) for United States companies. It is not clear if the government would have sufficient spectrum to build a 5G network of its own.

- It is one of the most radical proposals leaked from inside the Trump White House: taking our wireless carrier networks out of the hands of individual companies and giving the government full control.

Pai's Democratic colleague on the FCC, Mignon Clyburn, agreed, saying a network built by the federal government "does not leverage the best approach needed for our nation to win the 5G race". While Axios ascribes it to "a senior National Security Council official", it could be a war games-type brainstorming exercise, a starting point for discussion, or a serious policy proposal.

Several major carriers, however, are already investing heavily in 5G and it's unclear whether the effort would actually speed up network deployment - although the memo suggested that a national build-out could override local government restrictions on installation of new 5G infrastructure.

The U.S. has to build superfast 5G wireless technology quickly because "China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure", and "China is the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain", the document said, according to Axios.

During 2012, ZTE Corp. and Huawei were subjects of an investigation by US regulators into whether the equipment they made provided an opportunity for espionage by a foreign state and threatened critical infrastructure in the U.S. The documents also consider China's dominance of Artificial Intelligence, and use that as part of the rationale for "nationalising" 5G networks.

"We have to have a secure network that doesn't allow bad actors to get in", a senior administration official told Reuters.

A spokesperson for AT&T said that the United States is already working on a 5G network - with AT&T's set to be switched on later this year.

The government would also create a process for installing 5G wireless equipment, preventing states and municipalities from developing their own rules about equipment installation, according to Axios.

Responding to the report about the memo AT&T said that private sector work was well under way and testing has gone to field trials.

Fletcher Cook, a spokesman for AT&T, said in a statement that the company "can't comment on something we haven't seen".

"We doubt these ideas will advance for a variety of reasons, including spectrum constraints, private sector investment and the availability of other security measures", Height said Monday.

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