Date
21 May 2018
Uncertainties surrounding 5G rollout in the US are casting a shadow on network development plans elsewhere. Photo: Reuters
Uncertainties surrounding 5G rollout in the US are casting a shadow on network development plans elsewhere. Photo: Reuters

5G: Why the US needs to get moving

5G has entered the rapid-development phase. South Korean telecom giant KT will for the first time unveil a trial service of fifth-generation network technology during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that will kick off later this week.

Several other nations have announced plans for auction of 5G spectrum. Leading telecom operators and smartphone producers also appear to be ready.

In the US, it’s reported that Trump’s national security team is looking at two 5G options. One is for the government to build a 5G wireless network. Another option is to follow the past practices and let a consortium of wireless carriers undertake the project.

The first option reflects concerns about the threat of China spying on US phone calls.

US authorities have banned American telecom companies from using equipment supplied by Huawei, and also barred China Mobile from the American market.

It’s questionable whether US government can build a nation-wide 5G network as quickly as the private sector. The latter is seen is capable of getting it done in three years. 

As a matter of fact, the US has lagged far behind Europe and even China in telecom systems and standards, notwithstanding the dominant position held by Apple in smartphones and Qualcomm in wireless technology.

The Trump administration will discuss the 5G network rollout issue in next three to six months. FCC commissioner Ajit Pai released a statement recently that he opposes the plan for a government-run 5G network.

“Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future,” he said.

Given all this, the 5G plan in US still faces a lot of uncertainties. It remains to be seen how that will affect 5G development globally or impact the launch of more 5G mobile phones and equipment.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 6

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman

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