Inside the 5G gold rush between China and America

Faida Yves Moses
Faida Yves Moses
4 Min Read

The world’s leading telecoms are locked in a global race to launch 5G, the next generation of mobile data set to revolutionize the internet as we know it. Some of the countries leading this race are the United States, Japan, South Korea and China. Of which China’s Huawei is at the helm. But just how impressive is 5G technology? and why has it created such a fuss among the world’s leading tech powers?

What is 5G?

For starters, 5G is the successor of the fourth generation of Internet (4G). Once rolled out, it will be capable of delivering internet speeds upto 100 times faster than 4G. This means that a two hour High Definition movie that would normally take about seven minutes to download could now be downloaded in just six seconds. However, its potential is way beyond fast internet. 5G is set to unlock the next industrial revolution; from autonomous driving and AI, advanced augmented reality, big data, production technology,gaming and video streaming. Therefore controlling 5G would mean generating billions of dollars worth of profit and potentially controlling the global economy. This prospect is what is driving the supremacy battle between the world’s two largest powers.

Who’s leading the race?

Although the US has been at the forefront of almost all telecommunications technology in the past century, its leadership is increasingly being invaded by China. Furthermore, due to the slow regulatory and bureaucratic processes in the US, the country has fallen behind on major 5G milestones. For example; the Federal Communication Commision held its first auction on mid-band 5G spectrum in the 3.5GHz band on 1St July; way behind China and some countries in Europe. The Chinese are pushing beyond all proportions to lay out and commercialize their 5G infrastructure; and the Americans are not happy about that.

Will the US catch up?

The Trump administration has done its best to delay China in its pursuit for 5G. In its latest move, it banned US companies from working with or buying equipment from Huawei and ZTE; some of the Chinese companies Involved in the 5G race. However, experts have criticized these actions citing a significant risk to the 5G supply chain. Some say this could split the development standards of 5G and create incompatible technologies while others worry that it could slow the development and deployment of 5G products. Despite America’s offensive, China’s thirsty ambition to dominate the 5G race is still up and running. While the US only has 30,000 5G towers, China has built a whooping 350,000 towers throughout its major cities. Furthermore, in 2018 the chinese search giant, Baidu had already successfully tested Autonomous cars connected to a 5G network. In fact, as far back as 2015, China had already outspent the US by $24 billion in building 5G infrastructure. Clearly in this race for two, the Chinese are moving at Lamborghini speeds. It’s going to take more than just a ban to slow them down; perhaps the Americans should try using a concorde.

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