Trump pushes for 5G -- and even 6G -- upgrades ASAP

The president says the US mobile industry needs to step up or risk getting left behind.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read

President Donald Trump wants 5G, even 6G, to be available in the US as soon as possible. 

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President Donald Trump says American companies "must step up their efforts" to establish 5G networks in the US, or "get left behind."

In a pair of tweets Thursday morning, the president said he wants to see 5G technology "and even 6G technology" in the US as soon as possible, adding that "there is no reason that we should be lagging behind on ... something that is so obviously the future."

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Mobile carriers across the world are racing to deploy 5G. The next-generation cellular technology promises lightning-fast internet speeds, broader coverage and better responsiveness of wireless networks. It's expected to be 10 to 100 times faster than current wireless connections, which will allow for better video streaming experiences and more devices to work on a given network at the same time.

The rollout of 5G is just now getting under way.

Watch this: Huawei CEO thanks US for 'promoting' its 5G program

In October, Verizon launched its 5G service in a small deployment, but it's not really a mobile service -- more like Wi-Fi -- and the company plans to launch its mobile service this year. In December, AT&T turned on its mobile 5G network in a dozen cities and this year plans to boost its coverage to 19 cities. T-Mobile also said it'll launch its 5G networks in 30 cities, and Sprint will launch in nine cities in 2019. 

You'll need a 5G-enabled phones  to take advantage of these new networks, and they're on the way. Sprint said it'll release the first US 5G smartphone, built by LG , this year. On Wednesday, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S10 5G phone, which is due in the second quarter of the year. Many other phones would use Qualcomm's X50 modem to tap into 5G networks. 

So far, none of the carriers are working on 6G technology. It's taken nearly a decade to get to 5G since its predecessor, 4G, arrived on the scene.

Trump's tweet wasn't the only mention of 6G on Thursday.

In an appearance on the CBS This Morning show, the founder of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei made a passing reference as he talked about the US' get-tough approach to the company. The Trump administration has been outspoken about the potential for China to outpace the US in the development and deployment of 5G networks, and US intelligence agencies have said that Huawei poses an espionage threat.

"Now we are rolling out 5G, and soon we'll welcome 6G," Ren Zhengfei said on the show. (Note: CNET and CBS This Morning are both part of CBS.) "And in the future, I said there will be new equipment that is suitable for the United States."

First published at 6:18 a.m. PT.
Updated at 6:55 a.m. PT: Adds more background information on 5G technology.