November 21, 2019 / 12:57 PM / 15 days ago

Trump wants Apple to be involved in 5G infrastructure building in U.S.

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had asked Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to look into helping develop telecommunications infrastructure for 5G wireless networks in the United States.

Apple CEO Tim Cook escorts U.S. President Donald Trump as he tours Apple's Mac Pro manufacturing plant with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looking on in Austin, Texas, U.S., November 20, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

“They have it all - Money, Technology, Vision & Cook!” Trump tweeted, without elaborating on how he expects the iPhone maker to contribute.

Apple is not known to have made any investments in 5G telecoms infrastructure to date and is yet to release a 5G device.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump met Cook on Wednesday during his visit to Apple’s upcoming campus in Texas, in the latest sign of a close relationship between two of America’s most powerful men.

This is not the first time Trump has used his Twitter account to address Cook. In one of his latest tweets, Trump, who uses a government-issued iPhone, lamented the loss of the home button on some iPhone models because it forced users to swipe upward, rather than tap a button to unlock the phone.

5G RACE

Trump has earlier said that the United States intended to deploy 5G services rapidly and plans to cooperate with “like-minded nations” to promote security in next-generation 5G networks.

5G networks will offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than the current 4G networks, and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.

Mobile operators have to upgrade their networks with 5G gear made by the likes of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Oyj.

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

The U.S. Congress has been considering legislation to authorize up to $1 billion for small and rural wireless providers to replace network equipment from companies such as Huawei.

Among U.S. firms, Qualcomm Inc is the dominant player in radio chips that help mobiles connect to networks and Cisco Systems Inc that makes networking gear.

Some of Apple’s rivals in the smartphone market — notably Samsung Electronics Co Ltd — have already released 5G devices.

Apple, which is expected to release its first 5G phones in 2020, will be able to beat Samsung and Huawei to capture the top spot by the end of next year, according to research firm Strategy Analytics here

Many carriers that are investing heavily to build 5G networks are also likely to put their marketing efforts behind 5G phones.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert in Washington and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila

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