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Trump thinks Apple can build out 5G in US (It can’t.)

(Image credit: Sheelah Craighead/White House/Flckr)

President Donald Trump asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to build out 5G in the U.S. during a tour of a manufacturing plant Nov. 20. There's just one problem: As a smartphone maker, Apple has literally nothing to do with the infrastructure development or deployment of cellular networks.

It's not entirely clear what Trump meant by getting "Apple involved in building 5G." Despite Apple's "money, technology, vision" and Cook's leadership of the company, 5G networks are the purview of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint (the latter two will soon be one carrier). The carriers have already flipped the switch on 5G networks in the U.S., though coverage doesn't yet blanket the country. Phone makers like Samsung and LG have already released 5G-capable smartphones that you can buy through your carrier. 

Trump has a history of making comments about technology that are a bit bewildering. Earlier this year, he tweeted that he wants 6G deployed in the U.S. as soon as possible. That won't happen, given that 5G isn't yet widespread.

Trump may have been urging Apple to develop a 5G iPhone, which is rumored to be coming next fall. Given that 5G networks are barely off the ground and that coverage is spotty in the areas where it is available, a 5G iPhone wouldn't have made much sense this year. (Also, Apple only recently patched up its legal issues with Qualcomm, which makes the 5G modem Apple needs for next year's iPhones.)

Regardless of what Trump meant when he urged Apple to do something about 5G, it's likely that the company will continue with its existing plans.