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Politics of 5G… beyond two sides of one tale



IN THE epoch of hitherto existing societies, there have been none where an innovation or change was not met with opposition. This is as result of the class which the already existing status quo favour would want to retain her relevance in such societies. With innovation comes rancor between opposing sides that might be ‘for’ or ‘against’ the change.

  From the industrial revolution to French revolution, then to the Cold war and recently the salient war between the oil-based economy and the advocates of alternative sources of energy, these altercations could be for the control of either or all of political, economic, social structures and powers.

As such, the struggle for the soul of 5G technology, which is assumed to spearhead all other innovations to come in this decade have heated up over the years between the two leading countries; China and United States of America through their supportive tech industries Huawei, ZTE, Nokia and Ericsson.

  The conspiracy theories

  The processes leading to the development of 5G has been caught up in a whirlwind of arrests, indictments, political threats, allegations and counter-allegations, as the Huawei’ Chief financial officer was arrested in Canada, in 2018, on United States request for extradition.

  Countries are eager to make procurement decisions for 5G infrastructure. The United States and China are employing various tactics to outwit each other in the power play.

The United States government is fronting the protectionist paradigm against the Chinese as the 5G would aid espionage against national security. To Emily Taylor, a cyber security analyst, the ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy aims for China’s technical innovation and quality to triumph in international markets.

There are genuine cybersecurity concerns with 5G technology: the virtualised, software driven, intelligent network; the range and scale of unsecured devices that will form part of the 5G environment as Internet of things mainstreams.

“The uncomfortable truth is that any provider that sits at a low level in a network enjoys a privileged position, should it so choose, it will be capable of exploiting, inspecting or otherwise messing with data as it passes over the network”, Taylor said.

  Sure enough, no country would want information as regards to her national security to be within the knowledge of another country. Numerous countries are conducting or have completed reviews on the 5G tech.  Only Germany has announced that it will not proactively restrict Huawei’s access to national 5G deployment.

 Australia has imposed a blanket national ban, adopting a harder line even than the U.S. which only restricts Huawei from certain government contracts. New Zealand has blocked it, while maintaining no final decisions have been made.

  The United Kingdom government under the leadership of Boris Johnson has opted for a mixed approach, allowing the Chinese company access to non-sensitive parts of its wireless network.

The United States through her Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, recently threatened allies that the U.S. government will no longer share intelligence with them if they incorporate Huawei into their networks – risking a fracture in the longstanding Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership.

  In Europe and America, due to the devastating state caused by the coronavirus pandemic, projects are seemingly forcing operators to refocus capital and resource away from 5G deployments, while the postponement of spectrum auctions will leave some operators short of the valuable airwaves critical to a 5G proposition.

  Both Europe and North America are staring at a recession in the mid-term, meaning customer demand for 5G, both consumer and enterprise will be lessened, and while the high street is closed, device sales will take a material hit. With dampened consumer demand for 5G and telcoms attention being drawn elsewhere, the deployment of 5G networks will likely suffer.

  Across to China, many regions are returning to normality as the lockdown lifts. China appears to be returning to normal, which have resulted in the United States government laying claims that China sabotaged the world’s health in a bid to supplant 5G. The President of the United States, Donald Trump went further to assert that China would be sanctioned.

  4G brought about a new type of business model through the democratization of mobile internet services. Today, the biggest digital fortunes are being captured by the early adopters, and many of them are located in the US or China.

This is why scaling 5G networks faster than other nations are so important. 5G will bring about a new generation of products, services and business models. As the United States have dominated the 4G era, her tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber and Google have benefitted more as they hover- up cash.

v  Fifth generation (5G) technology’s speed and reliability promise to revolutionise the world’s economy and communications. Low-cost data and boosted mobility will connect people on a mass scale.

Industries, schools, militaries and hospitals will have newfound access to artificial intelligence, robotics, streamlined supply chains and automation. However, the politics of 5G are rarely pure, never simple, and are certainly not neutral.

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