China is going forward with full speed on 5G Network, scarcely delayed by a pandemic that has devastated the planet. It is setting up a competition between the nation and the US, which has led the way with 4 G wireless technology and is keen to retain its pole position in this next generation.
5G is the next generation of wireless technology to be introduced globally, offering a much faster wireless service and a more responsive network. Its ability to attach more devices and give real-time input is expected to cause a sea shift in how we live and function, bringing new developments to advanced virtual reality environments like self-driving cars.
The country leading in 5G implementation could gain some advantage in carrying out these future technologies. And just like the US benefited from the crop of apps and businesses that arose from 4G — think anything from live-streaming on Facebook to ride-sharing services like Uber — so many believe 5G would cause a similar revival in new business and reality experiences.
There is another explanation why both China and the US are keen to lead in this field — any 5G research would contribute to countries protecting critical intellectual property that will affect future wireless technology growth.
2020 should have been the year 5G gained popularity. But the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has led us to wonder if this year’s technology is going to get off the ground. The recent coronavirus, which carries diseases called COVID-19, first appeared last year in Wuhan, China.
It has now developed into a full-blown pandemic that has infected more than 12 million people worldwide, 3 million of which are in the US. The epidemic has triggered lockdowns in cities all over the globe, causing businesses to close and residents to be locked for weeks and months in their homes.
But China has continued working along when it comes to 5G. It was the first country to be infected by the coronavirus, but it has now recovered, with people back to work and continuing 5G network launches. Network equipment manufacturer Ericsson raised its estimate for 5G subscriptions from China in its latest report on mobility, even as it downsized the numbers for Western Europe and North America. Most of this year’s 5G subscribers will come from China, the company has said.
It is reported that the White House has considered intervening at the federal level, offering tax breaks and seeking US companies to support their 5G efforts. President Donald Trump’s administration has also sought to put the brakes on China’s 5G plans, mainly by curtailing Huawei, the world’s largest 5G hardware supplier. US officials have long been worried about the use of Huawei equipment to spy on US civilians and their allies.
But the latest moves by the government face resistance and severely hobble the global 5G supply chain worldwide, also slowing US deployment and potentially fragmenting the market.
Where the US stands in 5G?
Each of the big US wireless carriers deploys 5G in different cities around the US.
Most of these companies started work in 2019, but activities were to set pick up in 2020. Instead, it entered the pandemic coronavirus. Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T executives each acknowledged during their quarterly earnings this spring how they had encountered some rollout uncertainty but told investors that they were comfortable in their 5G implementations.
Still, it’s unsure how deployments will be affected by the pandemic as virus cases continue to increase and cities and states consider lockdowns. One significant danger is to manage the local regulatory agencies to make small cell deployments.
“While we continue to manage the workforce and require delays, our 5G rollout continues,” a former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on the company’s current earnings call when stepped down from his statement. He said AT&T has “no intention to slow down on 5G and fibre deployment, and so on, the reality is that much of it is not in our hands.”
For the remaining portion of this year, therefore, Ericsson has altered its expectations regarding 5G subscriptions in North America. The equipment manufacturer expects that by 2020, 13 million people in North America would switch to 5G, down from its 16 million estimates before.
T-Mobile provides a nationwide 5G network in terms of coverage, but it is a variant that is only progressively faster than 4G. AT&T is constructing an equivalent wide-ranging 5G network, but it delays within reach behind T-Mobile. Verizon has participated in fast but limited 5G in some areas, but for the second quarter, it still expects a quicker, higher-reaching network.
Where does China stand in 5G?
The Trump administration has regarded this policy as a challenge to the US and the foreign economies and is reluctant to address it in public at this point, because of concerns from other nations.
Control of government takes several forms. Wireless operators in the United States and China, for example, will install a tone of 5G equipment. This means hundreds of large cellular networks towers and thousands of small cell antennas which need to go into small towns and communities. The Chinees govt can use its power to deploy this equipment.
Nevertheless, the US state government will not have the same expertise or power over towns and villages. This can slow it down the deployment of equipment. The FCC has attempted to change legislation to prevent cities from slowing down the operation. However, these rules are legally challenged, and some towns do not really want them.
In companies such as Huawei, the Chinese government has also spent considerable amounts in the production of 5G technologies, which have been very productive. Chinese companies own the bulk of the world’s 5G licenses. So then there is the two countries’ different spectrum scheme.
Here we have a big question. Why does the US specifically target Huawei?
Huawei is one of the leading suppliers of 5G equipment as well as the highest tech. Huawei is the 2nd largest mobile phone maker after Samsung. National security experts suggest that it still has close ties with the Chinese government, which was founded in 1987 by an ex-officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. And these analysts, including the CIA’s executives, the FBI and the National Security Agency, confirmed before the US Congress that they suspect that Huawei could carry out “undetected espionage” by using his hacker program to spying on the US and its partners in the US networks.
National security experts suggest that it still has close ties with the Chinese government, which was founded in 1987 by an ex-officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. And these analysts, including the CIA’s executives, the FBI and the National Security Agency, confirmed before the US Congress that they suspect that Huawei could carry out “undetected espionage” by using his hacker program to spying on the US and its partners in the US networks.
Huawei has always refuted these allegations and insists that it’s not a Chinese administration weapon. But US intelligence sources mention a Chinese National Intelligence Law which requires that all businesses fulfil requests from the Communist Party to move information. There’s also been a long tradition of China-backed hackers cheating trade secrets of Western companies.
This is precisely what the US Department of Justice has accused Huawei of doing in a 2019 indictment alleging the company of embedded engineers at T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington facility to steal equipment and trade secrets. Huawei once again denied the allegations.
The United States has also forced other governments to ban Huawei.
Have any of the countries agreed with the United States?
Till now, in banning Huawei in their communication systems, only five other countries have joined the US: Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan.
Many of US friends including United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands have said they intend to push forward with deployments from Huawei but with some limitations. The British decision to move forward with Huawei in January was a massive blow to the Trump campaign, which had campaigned Britain to retain Huawei out of its network system.
However, the United Kingdom and France are revising their decision. Previously this week, The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated that his country could change its stance on Huawei and push further to restrict the involvement of the Huawei technologies in establishing the 5G network for the United Kingdom. There are also indications that France’s national security agency suggests French telcos prevent Chinese company equipment without explicitly banning the device.
Other countries, including India, have also suggested that they will place restrictions on the use of Huawei’s technologies in their 5G networks.
It feels as if US policies are working as expected. Is there any disadvantage for the US to take that stance?
Yes, of course, experts say the 5G supply chain has a considerable risk that could reduce the product and technology development.
“In the end, public bullying by the Trump administration on the use of Huawei products may backfire without coordination with other competitors who make up the global 5G supply chain,” Turner Lee said in a statement.
Moreover, the plan could break the creation of specifications that would effectively set up conflicting technology routes for 5G, just as we’ve seen in 3G.
And if Huawei can repeat 5G experience what it did with 3G and 4G so it could win in the end. As a low-cost manufacturer, Huawei has gained a reputation for himself. If it is doing that with 5G equipment, providers using their material will be capable of delivering cheap 5G network service in places like China, which will try to push mass adoption. For Chinese players contributing to future wireless standards, getting more experience communicating with the public using 5G network is invaluable, and helps set the list where the technology is going.
Just check the price difference. As Chinese telecom companies first started 5G service in November priced about $18 a month. That cost for a starting plan already has fallen to around $10 a month. Besides that, US 5g providers, including Verizon, are charging $10 per month to consumers for 5G network coverage — in addition to lower-end plans.