5G: A Two-Edged Sword for China?

Published July 24th, 2019 - 09:01 GMT
The 5G-related investment would allow China to obtain a massive share in terms of intellectual property.
The 5G-related investment would allow China to obtain a massive share in terms of intellectual property. (Shutterstock)
Highlights
For China, 5G is a game-changer in the telecommunications industry, and it wants to lead the race ahead of other rival countries.

 

China has found itself in the headlines after a stalled trade talks between the United States of America caused the imposition of the ban against Huawei. It is very obvious that China is racing ahead to implement the 5th generation of wireless technology, otherwise known as the 5G. The reason? It is about national pride, for sure.

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China views the implementation of 5G wireless technology as its best chance to pioneer such advanced technology globally. And implementing the 5G wireless technology ahead of other countries will position China among other countries that developed such technology.

Back on the 1990s, 2G wireless technology was developed in countries located in Europe. In Asia, Japan, for instance,  the 3G wireless technology was developed in the 2000s, while the US pioneered the development of 4G in the year 2011. For China, 5G is a game-changer in the telecommunications industry, and it wants to lead the race ahead of other rival countries.

The race to 5G development and implementation is crucial to China’s technological sector. The Chinese government, through its tech companies, wants to replace American tech company giants like Apple and Microsoft. The motivation for all of these is money as we are talking about a trillion dollar industry.

This claim was backed by China Mobile, the country’s leading and largest mobile operator. In a statement, China Mobile’s former executive official Jianzhou Wang said that China’s ambition to pioneer 5G wireless technology was a process that started from small to big ambition.

China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology forecasted that the 5G wireless technology would bring an estimate of 8 million jobs in 2030. The state-run research agency also said that 5G technology is seen to fuel the health care and energy sectors by using the wireless equipment for a certain period.

Is China leading the 5G race?

Insiders who are privy of the Chinese governments’ plan hinted that the development and implementation of 5G wireless technology is one of the policy priorities of Beijing. Such policy is contained in China’s “Made in China 2025” road map. With regards to the 5G implementation, China is targeting to launch commercially wireless technology by 2020. The target year was indicated in last year’s Ernst and Young report, forecasting a $400 billion economic plan for 5 years in 5G technological investment.

The 5G-related investment would allow China to obtain a massive share in terms of intellectual property. By doing so, China is expected to widen its dominance globally. Huawei, for its part, said that it could produce all 5G-related equipment cheaper than its rivals since it was actually funded by the Chinese government.

A professor from Columbia University also noted that Huawei, being a China-based tech company, wants to lead the 5G race to position itself in the technological landscape. Professor Henning Schulzrinne said it is all about economic gains.

He further noted that Huawei had acquired a lot of intellectual property. This means that Huawei patents could translate to a lot of money through royalties.

Espionage

But China’s race to lead the spot in pioneering the 5G wireless technology wouldn’t sail easy. This comes after the US military and spy agency argued that China’s 5G network could be used as a tool for espionage. True to say that the 5G wireless technology goes beyond the issue of usability. It also exposed itself as a complex tool that embraces sensitive threats on national security.

The issue also points on the validity of national interest over the end goal of advancing the telecommunication system and the establishment of communication networks using 5G technology. Also, the issue of Chinese espionage is something that bothers the US Pentagon, the White House, and the NSA. While US intelligence agencies highlighted the vulnerability of using Huawei’s 5G wireless technology, tech analysts, however, said that their claims were unfounded.

Quick facts about 5G

The much-talked about 5G wireless technology would eventually improve people’s access to broadband technology. Using the 5G technology would simply provide users with a lot of convenience in their day to day activities. Among the benefits of using the 5G technology is that you can drive a wireless car, physicians can perform surgery remotely, law enforcement officers can make a quick search of arrest warrants via advanced wearables, automate appliances, heaters, security cameras, lights, door locks, among others. Also, for foreign investors, due to this advanced technology, China will be a very attractive place to expand as a startup

To implement the 5G networks, China sees the need to place all leading mobile operators under its control. These were China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile. Beijing is guiding all these mobile operators when it comes to the deployment of 5G networks across towns and cities.

By Ariana Merill

 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Al Bawaba Business or its affiliates.


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