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5G communications are a reality

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 31.12.2019, 14:14 Uhr
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Rome [ENA] 5G communications are a reality and this new wireless technology is going to change the whole economy and society. Its utilisation has generated an assertive competition between the rapid growth of China’s 5G industry and the United States’ historic superiority in technological innovation. The US estimates the expansion of Chinese 5G not only an economic challenge but also a geopolitical threat,

as 5G technology could give China’s government access to crucial information. On the other side, the European Union is striving to find its place in this changing environment notwithstanding considerable investment in 5G technology. However, the race to 5G is an excellent opportunity for the EU to fortify its technological sovereignty through a common strategy towards foreign telco (telecommunications) companies and a coherent cybersecurity policy. The fifth generation of telecommunications technologies (5G) symbolizes developers’ responses to three modern needs: (1) ensuring a stable connection for a dense “ecosystem”; (2) allowing the continuous streaming of a massive quantity of data; and (3) guaranteeing communications

with an extremely high-speed transmission rate. The definition of 5G standards does not have the exclusive objective of improving connections between individual users. This new infrastructure has been built with the ambition of offering vital technical requisites for the development of new technologies such as high-precision robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles and all those devices that compose the so called Internet of Things (IoT). 5G technologies are the structure within which the next Industrial Revolution will develop. Decisions taken today will influence the development of future digital technologies. In examining the changeover from 4G to 5G standards, a decisive element is the revolutionary modification

in the balance of power between states and between global firms. Western hegemony over the international decision-making process is now challenged. China and Chinese telecoms groups such as Huawei cannot be excluded from the development of global standards, taking into consideration the leading role that they already play in the process. China’s influence in international standard-setting bodies like the 3GPP rose increasingly due to Chinese representatives holding high-level posts: the ITU Secretary General and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Vice President are both Chinese nationals, while 3GPP’s chairman is a Huawei executive. 5G is supposed to create new markets and new jobs (thanks to the so-called

“technology push” effect). The European Commission has estimated that, in the face of an investment of 56 billion euro, the introduction of 5G technologies will eventually generate 2.3 million jobs in the European market. Today China leads the technological revolution. Although it is not possible to define in a quantitative way who is “winning” the 5G race, most analysts agree on the fact that Chinese firms have a net advantage. The main strength of China’s strategy for the development of 5G is the presence of a political system in which the central government intervenes openly in the economy to pursue efficiency of production, the shielding of domestic firms from foreign competition and a politically driven allocation of investments.

Central planning provides China with a comparative advantage in the 5G race put side by side with the US and the EU : in fact, it guarantees excellent coordination between telco companies, empowering the creation of synergies in innovation and R&D and of national champions. The Chinese government has succeeded in coordinating universities, research centres, and both public and private enterprises, limiting domestic competition and accelerating development projects regarding 5G technology. Along with the IMT-2020 Promotion Group, another key policy of Xi’s presidency is the Made in China 2025 strategic plan, a national directive launched in 2015 with the aim of transforming China into a superpower in ten strategic sectors in the so-called

high-added-value manufacturing industry, which includes robotics; information technology (IT); aerospace; biopharmaceuticals; and, crucially, telecommunications. Chinese telco companies and the new 5G technology, particularly concerning its implications in the IoT and smart cities, makes available to the government a powerful surveillance and interference tool, both internally and abroad. The 5G race and the US–China trade-and-tech war together are the perfect opportunity for the EU to invest in local technology and support European tech champions. As it has happened in the past revolutions, much of the entire global economy will inexorably be tied to the correct functioning of the 5G network.

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