The planned rollout of 5G networks in the United States and the United Kingdom has been impeded by an international controversy surrounding the largest manufacturer and supplier of 5G telecommunication equipment – Chinese tech giant Huawei.
National security fears have prompted the US to put a ban on purchase and use of telecom equipment from Huawie for use in 5G networks. Additionally, the US has also urged its allies to similarly ban Huawei. The US has also imposed strict control over what American companies in terms of selling to Huawei thereby disrupting the sale of Huawie phones in many western countries.
Many analysis including industry analysts such as Edison Lee, an analyst from financial services group Jefferies, view the measures against Huawie by the US as a strategy by the Trump administration to put pressure on China as well as the Chinese strategy of wanting to dominate the global 5G market.
“The tech war is based on America’s argument that China’s technological advances have been built upon stolen intellectual property rights, and heavy government subsidies, and their belief that Chinese telecom equipment is not safe, and is a national security threat to the US and its allies,” he says.
“As Huawei and [fellow Chinese firm] ZTE increasingly dominate the global telecom equipment market, the western world will be more vulnerable to Chinese spying,” Lee adds.
Allegations that its equipment is used for spying have been denied multiple times by Huawei.
However, while the western countries have still to decide on whether or not to include Huawei in the construction of 5G networks, the rollout of 5G networks is gaining speed in China. 5G services in more than 50 Chinese cities were launched by Chinese telecom companies on 31 October. That created one of the largest 5G networks of the world.
About 50% of that network has been built by Huawei.
The country registered more than 800,000 subscribers in just 20 days, claimed the Chinese Ministry of Information. By 2020, there will be about 110 million 5G users in China, predict analysts.
And additionally, new uses of 5G are being investigated by China’s tech sector.
For example, 5G powered autonomous vehicles are being developed by researcher in Hong Kong. Researchers at Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institution are working in partnership with China Mobile, the largest telecom company in China.
The researchers view that 5G can be used effectively for self-driving cars by allowing the cars to construct an accurate picture of what’s going on around them through a process of communicating with other vehicles, traffic signals and sensors in the road.
“For consumers, 5G will possibly transform how we interact with other. For the government, 5G will transform roads and road infrastructure to enable new applications like enhanced assisted-driving and eventually autonomous driving,” says Alex Mui, a researcher on the project.
America is making use of cybersecurity as an excuse for protectionism, alleged, China’s minister for industry and information while speaking at a 5G convention in Beijing in November. “No country should ban a company in its 5G network rollout by using the unproved allegations of cybersecurity risks,” said Miao Wei.
“We see the current tensions as a technological Cold War, as tech nationalism intensifies,” says Ben Wood, chief of research, at CCS Insight. “With the Chinese government firmly committed to establishing China as a world-leading 5G nation, the opportunity for Huawei in its home market is immense.
(Adapted from BBC.com)