Trump says U.S. will cooperate with 'like-minded' nations on 5G networks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said in a letter Monday the United States plans to cooperate with “like-minded nations” to promote security in next-generation 5G networks.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement at the White House following reports that U.S. forces attacked Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, in Washington, U.S., October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

In a letter to delegates at the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference in Egypt, Trump said the United States intended “to deploy 5G services rapidly” and was “in opposition to those who would use 5G as a tool to expand control of their own citizens and to sow discord among nations.”

The United States has been pressing nations not to grant China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd access to future 5G networks and alleged Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, which the Chinese company has repeatedly denied.

Trump has held numerous calls with foreign leaders, including British Prime Minister Johnson in August, to urge them not to let Huawei use 5G networks.

Last month, Norway said it did not plan to block Huawei from building the country’s 5G telecoms network. The Sunday Times reported that Johnson is preparing to grant Huawei access to the “non-contentious” parts of the 5G network, and Reuters reported this month that a new German security rule book would not exclude Huawei.

In May, Trump signed a long-awaited executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The order directed the Commerce Department, working with other government agencies, to draw up an enforcement plan by mid-October. The Commerce Department has yet to publish a plan.

The U.S. government blacklisted Huawei in May, saying the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to U.S. national security.

Congress has been considering legislation to authorize up to $1 billion for small and rural wireless providers to replace network equipment from companies, including Huawei and ZTE Corp 000063.SZ, that lawmakers say pose a national security risk.

About a dozen rural U.S. telecom carriers that depend on inexpensive Huawei and ZTE switches and equipment were in discussions with Ericsson ERICb.ST and Nokia NOKIA.HE to replace their Chinese equipment, Reuters reported in June.

In April 2018, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to advance new rules to bar the use of funds from a government program to purchase equipment or services from companies, including Huawei, that pose a security threat to U.S. communications networks. A person briefed on the matter said the FCC could vote on the final rules as early as November.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alison Williams and Steve Orlofsky