The battle for 5G leadership Here’s why the US and China are at loggerheads over our 5G future
The aggressive reaction of Washington over the higher achievements of Beijing in creating a telecommunication standard means there is a big deal about it.
What is the importance of 5G technology? Why are these two economy giant striving to take the lead? There must be something about 5G that goes way beyond blazing speed of internet downloads. Experts say that 5G technology has the potential to change the way we live on earth forever.
In the layman terms, the 5G implies significantly faster internet connectivity with enormous potential. Consequently, it will serve as the backbone that powers the futuristic Internet of Things (IoT) applications that handle big data. These types of application may include smart city infrastructures, AI-powered manufacturing, traffic infrastructure for the futuristic driverless cars ecosphere, and many other fantastic applications.
During the recent Analysts Summit of Huawei, Ken Hu, who presently serves as the rotating Chairman of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd made an interesting disclosure. He said that 5G is a revolutionary advancement that transforms connectivity from a pipeline to a platform. He further explained that consequently, all applications can be hosted in the cloud and everything can be online at every point in time. In conclusion, Ken emphasized that 5G technology will create a seamless experience between the online and offline environment.
Let’s take China, for instance, an improvement in connectivity with enhance the distribution of quality healthcare services in the various metropolis of China. This type of network will have the capacity to support the ever-increasing number of internet-aware devices in use every day. Typical examples are fitness tracking watches, smart speakers, and smart televisions, among a host of others.
Wilcon Cho, who is the head of global technology, media and telecommunication at PwC said that “Data is King” whenever a company digitalizes processes and transactions, and start deriving more value from data. He further emphasized that 5G will serve as the backbone for the commencement and advancement of the digital journey for many corporations.
Considering the revolution that 5G can bring, it is a really big deal. It is not surprising that the US and China are at loggerheads over 5G leadership race, the enormous economic advantage for the trailblazer is worth billions of dollars.
There are indications that the US is alarmed by the early lead of China in setting the standard for the 5G technology under the auspices of Huawei and ZTE. Washington is presently urging ally nations not to embrace the Chinese 5G technology as it claimed potential national security risks. This stand might also stem from concern over its own competitive edge.
On the other hand, China understands that becoming the pacesetter of 5G technology presents an opportunity to set the pace in the development of wireless technology for the first time. Till now, the US and Europe have been the innovators of wireless communication technology. Meanwhile, China presently has the world’s largest mobile market basis the number of subscribers and the network size.
5G technology is an integral part of the 13th Five-Year Plan tagged as the “new era of growth.” Huawei, an indigenous Chinese company, is at the forefront of supplying 5G infrastructure to telecom companies around the world. Obviously, the United States understands that it is lagging behind in the 5G technology race.
TheDefence Innovation Board which is an independent federal advisory committee under the US Department of Defence gave an interesting disclosure in a recent paper. The paper revealed that the leader of 5G will be privileged to gain revenue running to eight figures over the next decade and provide new wireless technology-related jobs.
The paper further stated that the country that pioneers the 5G technology will be the custodian of most of the innovations and create the standard that the rest of the world will follow. The paper concluded on a dismal note that most likely, this country will not be the United States.
Surface analysis of 5G potentials reveals endless possibilities in its application. It can transform ordinary electronics to smart devices capable of delivering empirical data from everyday occurrences.
For instance, it can lead to the evolution of smart traffic management systems. This can include synching traffic signals centrally and adjust them automatically based on the overall city traffic patterns delivered by cameras and sensors. The smart meter that bills water and electricity usage will become more efficient and widespread across the cities of the world.
The hyped virtual and augmented reality which seems far-fetched due to limited network capacity and high latency of the present wireless communication standards will finally become feasible with 5G.
One can liken the 5G technology to industrial electricity that takes production to a whole new level. However, this time around, the production is powered by data and not electricity. It is essential to understand that there is a need to do a reality check regarding 5G integrations. The operators will have to determine the 5G services that users are willing to patronize.
Peter Liu who serves as the Senior Research Director at Garner raised the concern that global operators are not yet ready to manage 5G technology and its extensive potential applications. He said that there is a need to understand the realistic 5G application and prepare adequately because some of the proposition might be overhyped.
At present, there are indications that the US and China seek to leverage the 5G technology to improve their military aptitude.
Last year, the Chinese government established the 5G Technology Military-Civil Fusion Applications Industry Alliance to develop defense and commercial 5G applications in the country. ZTE, China Unicom and the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation are members of this convergence.
Elsa B. Kania, who is a technology enthusiast and adjunct fellow at a New American Security wrote that many Chinese defense academics and engineers have proposed that 5G is applicable in battlefield communication. They claim that the faster and increased stability in information transmission is valuable in increasing the timeline and integration of data.
In the same vein, the US military has also acknowledged the potentials of 5G during combat. A paper released by the Defence Innovation Board postulated that just a single 5G network can help it promote the “improved situational awareness and decision making” significantly. The board claims that it will strengthen nuclear command and control communication. In conclusion, the paper noted that 5G can drive new innovations such as hypersonic weapons and defense systems.
Unintentionally, Huawei is in a dilemma in an epic clash of the Titans.
Experts estimated the share of Huawei in the global telecoms market to be 38%. Data released by the German firm IPlytics also revealed that Huawei is the company that has the highest number of 5G standard essential patents. The figure stands at 1,529 and closely followed by Nokia, a Finland company with 1,397 patents.
The stake is that if China successfully set the foundational infrastructural standard for the rest of the world, future products will be based on those specifications. In essence, the advantage of patents in 5G technology makes a company an industry leader in the standard. The company can then build an ecosphere of network providers, device manufacturers, and application developers. In the process, thousands of new jobs will be created.
The drive of China for 5G technology and the dominance of its indigenous Huawei in the global market is making the US uncomfortable. The argument by the United States is that the proliferation of Chinese equipment in its network is a potential risk. They claim that Chinese intelligence agencies can leverage them to compromise US internal security.
On its part, Huawei has continued to deny the US allegations vehemently. The company claimed it will never comply with any attempt to compromise the security of its network or aid the spying efforts of China.
The US Defence Innovation Board stated that if China emerged as the global leader in supplying 5G infrastructure, the US would be at risk of security vulnerabilities. The board showed concerns over the likelihood of the US Department of Defence operating foreign networks that already have Chinese components installed.
The paper further stated that in the current 5G competition, neither the US nor its Department of Defence is in a position to dictate the content or the integration of the 5G supply chain. It acknowledges the possibility of the rest of the world to accept Chinese products as a superior and cheaper solution.
The undisputed leader of the 5G technology innovation is yet to be determined, experts all agree that the technology has high potential to transform various sectors.
According to Julian Gorman, the Asia-Pacific head of GSMA, 5G presents itself as a new platform for innovation with its massive potential to eradicate latency which is presently a limiting factor. GSMA is a trade body that represents mobile network operators on the global scene.
At present all analyst are visualizing 5G from the experience they have had with 4G. Very soon, they will be discussing their experience from interacting with 5G applications.Source