5G is the next generation of wireless technology. Download speeds will be many times faster than what is possible under 4G.
And it’s not just speed. It’ll cut latency, which is the time it takes for signals to start travelling – something that will be critically important for the Internet of Things.
Nurtured well, 5G has the potential to become a “general-purpose technology”, analogous to electricity.
It holds open he possibility of creating new markets for goods and services that we can’t yet imagine.
The best suppliers of the gear required for 5G are in China, most notably Huawei, which has made the heaviest investments in the relevant technology but the problem is that Huawei caught up in security concerns.
Huawei is setting standardsMa Peiyao/Imaginechina/AP
There is a risk that the rejection of Huawei by some will end up, in the longer term, dividing the world into zones committed to different standards, limiting interconnection.
Different standards could constrain the development of global supply chains, pushing up prices. They could impede the scale of application and diffusion of new technologies, limiting what 5G is capable of achieving.
Huawei poses risks…
In announcing what amounted to bans on Huawei (and also China’s ZTE), the Australian government said 5G required a change in the way the networks operate compared to previous mobile technologies.
These changes will increase the potential for threats to our telecommunications networks, and these threats will increase over time as more services come online.
The government had found “no combination of technical security controls that sufficiently mitigate the risks”.
…which can be mitigated
There were reports of tension in the US between those who would take the risk-based approach and others who would simply keep Huawei on the banned provider list.
Commerce has, finally, proposed a case by case approach, and has not named any particular provider. But the Federal Communications Commission has banned Huawei from access to its universal services subsidies.
International cooperation could give us room to solve the problem. It could include cooperation with China. China and Australia share concerns about cybersecurity and could together in the same way as we do over other standards to facilitate trade.
Attempting to completely eliminate risk could lumber us with big costs. Some would be financial, others might come from stunting the next technological revolution.
- ^ fallen by half (www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk)
- ^ most important (www.afr.com)
- ^ Forbes magazine (www.forbes.com)
- ^ Huawei (consumer.huawei.com)
- ^ investments (www.cnet.com)
- ^ What is a mobile network, anyway? This is 5G, boiled down (theconversation.com)
- ^ national broadband network (www.smh.com.au)
- ^ 5G networks (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ executive order (www.whitehouse.gov)
- ^ under consideration (www.theregister.co.uk)
- ^ some parts (www.reuters.com)
- ^ highly (www.globaldata.com)
- ^ ZTE (www.zte.com.cn)
- ^ Ericsson (www.ericsson.com)
- ^ Samsung (www.samsung.com)
- ^ Nokia (www.nokia.com)
- ^ Apple (telecoms.com)
- ^ critical patents (telecoms.com)
- ^ winning the most contracts (www.sdxcentral.com)
- ^ expressed (www.pymnts.com)
- ^ concern (www.ft.com)
- ^ the scale of application and diffusion of new technologies (cama.crawford.anu.edu.au)
- ^ 30% (www.itwire.com)
- ^ failure to adequately protect (www.minister.communications.gov.au)
- ^ could be managed (huaweihub.com.au)
- ^ British (www.bbc.com)
- ^ risk mitigation strategy (ec.europa.eu)
- ^ Southeast Asian (www.aspistrategist.org.au)
- ^ small yard, high fence (www.foreignaffairs.com)
- ^ Europe (ec.europa.eu)
- ^ 150 days (apnews.com)
- ^ last week (www.federalregister.gov)
- ^ US ban on Huawei likely following Trump cybersecurity crackdown – and Australia is on board (theconversation.com)
- ^ banned Huawei (www.fcc.gov)
Authors: Christopher Findlay, Honorary Professor of Economics, Australian National University