Lisa Porter, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defence for Research and Engineering who oversees research and development at the Pentagon, reportedly asked American companies to develop a plan for open-source 5G software, known as open radio access networks, which would enable telecom carriers to purchase available hardware from various distributors, rather than pre-order systems in advance. Porter warned that failure to do so would potentially make US telecom businesses obsolete.
“I think those that drag will ultimately have to come along. It is just like any other historical trend — the classic one being Kodak, which invented digital cameras but then didn’t leverage them”, Porter explained to Financial Times.
However, the initiative is believed to potentially threaten the US-based leading suppliers of telecoms network equipment, Cisco and Oracle, which reportedly refused to enter into the radio transmission market when offered the opportunity.
The US administration is also believed to be considering the option of attracting Europe's biggest telecom companies - and Huawei's most prominent rivals - Nokia and Ericsson to participate in the initiative, as no US firms are making radio access towers. Porter argued that Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung were all considered as “potential contributors” to the plan, although the Pentagon was more enthusiastic about working with American businesses.
“The beauty of our country is that we allow that marketplace to decide the winners. The market will decide. If someone is dragging their feet, that’s up to them to decide, but then the market will decide from there who wins,” the official added.
The initiative is believed to be directly targeting Huawei, which remains a dominant equipment maker in the US, considering the fact that Chinese telecom giant is able to build entire 5G networks, including radio towers. However, the company has been under fire from Washington throughout this year, following accusations of industrial espionage and illegal surveillance practices on behalf of Beijing, something that was vehemently denied both by Chinese government and Huawei officials.
The Trump administration also carried on pressuring its Western allies to exclude Huawei from developing their national 5G infrastructure, but Germany, Norway and some other European states still continued their business with the Chinese tech giant.