As wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers race to produce the first 5G networks and phones, President Trump is already looking ahead to the next, next-generation: 6G.
In a tweet sent out Thursday morning, Trump tweeted “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on………”
Trump continued in a follow-up tweet, writing that the technology is “so obviously the future.”
“I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!”
It is unclear what prompted the President to tweet about the new wireless network race.
Carriers around the world, notably in South Korea and China, are racing to deploy 5G across their mobile networks though as with the U.S. many of the wide rollouts won’t begin until later this year or in 2020. The new technology promises improved speeds and lower latency, laying the groundwork for other technologies such as self-driving cars.
The White House did not immediately respond to a USA TODAY request for additional comment.
In a statement the CTIA, the trade association representing the U.S. wireless communications industry, appreciated the support from the President.
“We share the President’s commitment to leading the world in next-generation 5G wireless. Thanks to the innovation, hard work and investment of America’s wireless industry, the first commercial 5G deployments are happening now, in communities across the country.”
“With the Administration’s continued backing, the U.S. wireless industry can bring more robust 5G networks to more communities faster.”
The current 5G race
In the U.S., AT&T has already launched its mobile 5G network in 12 cities late last year, with Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile all rushing to launch their own mobile 5G services this year.
Verizon on Wednesday announced that it will be the first to launch the Galaxy S10 5G in the U.S., though other carriers will get it later.
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AT&T has even, controversially, relabeled its updated 4G LTE network as “5G E” or “5G Evolution” in a bid to convince customers that it has a wider 5G network than it actually does. The company has gone so far as to update Android icons to display a 5GE logo and advertise that it has “5G E” in television spots.
The move has drawn the ire of rival carriers and technology followers, with Sprint suing AT&T earlier this month claiming the ad was “false advertising.”
On a separate note, Sprint and T-Mobile are currently in the process of trying to complete their own $26-billion merger, claiming that they need to partner in order to deploy 5G nationwide.
Given the concerns about the U.S. carrier market shrinking from four to three in this deal, it is unclear how Trump’s latest tweet might impact the case the two companies are making to get their merger approved by lawmakers.
While companies are moving quickly, rolling out new networks takes time and nationwide 5G deployments could take a few years. The 6G Trump tweeted about doesn’t yet exist beyond the theoretical and likely won’t come into focus for several years.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal