The U.S. Must Diverge from China’s 5G Policies to Protect Our National Security & Innovative Edge

The People’s Republic of China continues its campaign to centralize and consolidate the 5G equipment market with the goal of attaining global dominance. At the recent World Radio Conference, the PRC showed its resolve in pushing for high-power licensing in the lower 3 GHz band – a centralized, top-down spectrum management policy that positions China to gain even greater control over global mass communications platforms delivered through Chinese Communist Party-controlled companies like Huawei.

The bottom line is this: we cannot cede this worldwide wireless leadership role to China. Instead of stepping in line with China’s directive for the allocation of midband spectrum, the U.S. must continue as the world’s global wireless leader, including by capitalizing on dynamic, shared licensing, which will safeguard our national security and expand our unique innovation capabilities. Lower-power, local licensing will give the U.S. the opportunity and flexibility we need to drive innovation and boost competition here at home, allowing us to set the standard and chart a path toward the new wireless reality of innovative 5G deployment.

Falling in line with China’s top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to licensing mid-band spectrum positions the U.S. for failure: decades of time and hundreds of billions in costs wasted to compress and relocate critical Department of Defense systems that currently operate on the lower 3 GHz bands – if it is possible to relocate them at all. That includes advanced U.S. Navy radars being used at this very moment in the Red Sea to protect vital shipping lanes against Iranian-backed terrorists. All the while, China would be actively fueling their global ambitions while we fall further behind. We cannot afford to be confined by China’s exclusive, high-power licensing approach – a path that works against our national security interests while handing China a bigger, more advantageous market for Huawei equipment and services.

Shared spectrum is the American way. It plays to our strengths in innovation and co-existence with critical military uses and will help us beat China in the global race to 5G. Aggressive as China may be, they lack the U.S.’s innovative prowess. They view wireless technology through the narrow lens of legacy models employed since the mid-1990s. We must resist playing China’s game in the spectrum licensing arena, refuse to succumb to their narrative that high-powered, exclusive licensing is the future, and continue to secure America’s wireless future through dynamic, locally-licensed shared spectrum while preserving our national security.