“The United States and our partners are in an urgent race against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop and build 5G infrastructure around the world,” said Barr in a statement.
5G is expected to change the way people live and work by supplying a faster and more reliable internet connection - along with a host of technological advances such self-driving cars, smart cities and remote surgeries.
“Our national security and the flourishing of our liberal democratic values here and around the world depend on our winning it,” Barr said Thursday. “Future 5G networks will be a critical piece of global infrastructure, the central nervous system of the global economy.”
The race to achieving 5G first, is in developing infrastructure to allow 5G to work in the United States and allied countries.
Security officials warn that China may use the development of 5G and its infrastructure to be able to spy on people more easily.
“5G technology lies at the center of the technological and industrial world that is taking shape,” said Barr in a February speech addressing a conference on the security risks China poses.
“In essence, communications networks are not just for communications anymore. They are evolving into the central nervous system of the next generation of internet.”
Barr noted that telecom giants like Huawei are leading the 5G race, and currently account for 40 percent of the global 5G infrastructure market.
US intelligence officials have also said that the equipment made by Chinese telecom companies could possibly threaten national security.
“If the PRC [People’s Republic of China] wins the 5G race, the geopolitical, economic, and national security consequences will be staggering,” said Barr Thursday.
Huawei is known to have built equipment that preserves and shares private information to Chinese law enforcement officials, through a process known as “lawful interception interfaces.” US security officials believe this access could be shared on a larger scale with the Chinese government and put US intelligence in jeopardy.
But Barr said he believes the US could catch up with China’s 5G progress by working “closely with trusted vendors to pursue practical and realistic strategies.”
We can win the race, but we must act now.”