President Donald Trump sent a pair of bizarre tweets Thursday morning mentioning a “6G” wireless network and seemingly hinting that he could take a softer stance on Chinese telecom company Huawei.
The tweets rang as odd because 6G technology doesn’t exist. U.S. telecom companies are barely on the cusp of 5G wireless networks, and they’re facing stiff competition to build it before Chinese companies.
Trump doesn’t name China or Huawei, but that’s likely what he’s referencing. Chinese companies are at the forefront of 5G technology, and the Trump administration resumed trade talks with Chinese negotiators Thursday. Both nations face a March 1 deadline to reach a deal, although Trump has indicated he could back off of it.
Meanwhile, Trump has reportedly been preparing an executive order to ban Huawei and ZTE from operating in the U.S., which would grant U.S. companies a little more cushion to build their own 5G networks. Now it seems Trump could be reconsidering a ban on Chinese telecoms.
It’s unclear whether a potential ban on Huawei and ZTE would factor into negotiations, but such an executive order would likely invite some bad blood between the world’s two largest economies.
The U.S. and other countries have long feared Huawei’s equipment could be used for spying.
TPG Telecom dropped plans to use Huawei equipment in Australia, which banned the use of Huawei’s equipment. New Zealand and Japan have similar prohibitions in place. The U.K. hasn’t made a decision either way, but the Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank, warned earlier this month that allowing Huawei equipment could be “naive” and “irresponsible.”
Germany has considered similar measures, but said earlier this month that it isn’t ready to ban Huawei and that it will allow all 5G equipment vendors in the country.
U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon are still activating fledgling 5G networks in select cities, and T-Mobile and Sprint plan to launch theirs later this year. Most experts think it will take until at least 2020 for 5G to become widespread.
Samsung just announced the first phone that will run on the faster network, but it won’t launch until the second quarter of this year.
Trump’s reference to nonexistent “6G” might just be an indication he wants technology to be running full speed ahead, but it’s not something that anyone will be able to use in the near future.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
At the time of this tweet there is no white paper on 6G. Trump is showing again his complete lack of understanding of technology.