President Donald Trump has called on US companies to step up their game, get cracking on 6G, and "win through competition, not by blocking out" more advanced competition.
6G networks are of course likely to be a decade away, but Trump's comments about winning through competition and not blockades probably refer to something more immediate: an executive order he's been weighing up that could ban US mobile networks from buying Huawei's 5G technology, much like the bans in Australia and New Zealand on national security grounds.
The US has already banned government agencies and contractors from purchasing Huawei equipment, but not commercial operators.
Trump on Thursday evening said he wanted "5G, and even 6G" in the US as soon as possible and called on American companies to step up their game rather than rely on blocking competition.
"American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on something that is so obviously the future. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies," he said across two tweets.
His comments stand in contrast to remarks by US Vice President Mike Pence in Germany last week, who called on US allies to reject Chinese telecom companies or face reduced US military support.
"We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East," said Pence, referring to weapons purchases.
He continued: "The United States has also been very clear with our security partners on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies… We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure, and America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant and to reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems."
SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)
In an interview with CBS This Morning aired on Thursday, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said, "5G is not an atomic bomb", but also, half-jokingly, thanked US criticism for helping Huawei win more 5G contracts. It has so far secured 5G contracts in 30 countries.
"They've been regarding 5G as the technology at the same level of the — some other military equipment. 5G is not an atomic bomb," said Ren.
Welcoming US criticism of Huawei, Ren said: "5G was not known by common people. But now, these great figures are all talking about 5G… And we're becoming more influential and getting more contracts."
Ren said he thought Trump was "a great president because in a very short period of time, he was able to reduce the tax rate".
Previous and related coverage
The Trump administration is considering an executive order that would bar US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by China's Huawei and ZTE.
While everyone else spent CES 2019 talking about 5G, Cisco is already looking towards a 6G future.
LG Electronics and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have opened a 6G research centre to cooperate in the development of the next-generation wireless network.
US lawmakers introduce bipartisan Bill that, if passed, would ban the export of US chips and other components to the two Chinese tech companies.
The next generation of wireless networking standards could leave critical security gaps open, according to University of Dundee research.
The mainland is looking to be one step ahead of everyone else.