Over the past eighteen months President Trump has lauded the benefits of 5G and explicitly said the controversial technology is needed to secure the nation’s cyber-infrastructure against foreign intrusion, advice he received from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and CIA Director Gina Haspel. In fact, last year Trump and Pai spent an hour on national television calling 5G the preeminent invention of the 21st Century, and they bragged about how every American home would rely on the innovative technology in coming years.
And in a letter to delegates at the 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference in Egypt, Trump said the United States intended “to deploy 5G services across America very, very fast and rapidly” and was in opposition to countries that imposed a moratorium on 5G infrastructure pending the evaluation of health and safety concerns involving the 5G frequency spectrum.
So, it is a bit perplexing that Trump on Monday agreed with a CIA assessment that the White House and potentially other government buildings receive 5G exemptions. In a private meeting with Haspel and ranking members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Trump was told the White House is not a suitable candidate for 5G upgrades.
When the president asked Haspel to explain herself, she said the White House’s outermost walls were built with Aquia Creek sandstone, which hold metal particulates that interrupt or obstruct wireless 5G transmission frequencies. The entire convocation agreed with her assessment.
According to a White House source familiar with the meeting, President Trump raised a curious question, asking why his technologically inferior 4G iPhone, with which he Tweets dozens of times a day from the Oval Office, worked “really, really, really great” in every corner of the White House.
Pai told Trump the FCC had performed quantifiable tests that proved the transmission limitation applied only to 5G and did not impair outmoded telecommunication technology.
Committee Chairman Richard Burr said the architects and laborers who built the White House in 1792 could not have foreseen the advent of modern-day technology. The White House, he added, had a flawless communication network and would not suffer from lack of 5G.
Haspel parroted his sentiment, saying the building’s current quantum computer network more than compensated for the absence of a 5G network.
“Look at it this way, Mr. President. 4G has been around since 2009, and we’ve yet to make it perfectly secure. That’s been 10 years. While we can implement 5G today, it will take monumental research and time to make it secure, too. Right now, the White House is mostly secure. Even if 5G worked here, we would be replacing a mostly secure network with one that will initially be vulnerable to foreign and domestic intrusion,” Haspel said.
The whirlwind of comments apparently filled Trump’s mind with dubiety.
“That makes no sense to me. I’m the president; you’re the geeks. I trust you know what you’re talking about. But if the nation has 5G, then I want it, too,” Trump purportedly said.
The assembly assured him he would be able to have 5G communications anywhere on the planet except for the White House and other structures made of Aquia Creek sandstone.
“I guess it’s no 5G for the White House then,” Trump said.
In closing, the gathering urged Trump, by his own admission a scientific waif, to continue his role as a champion for a technology that will ultimately revolutionize telecommunications across the world.