The Politics of 5G

If there’s one thing we really need right now, it’s 5G. Just imagine how much better those zoom calls would be, not to mention those movie downloads, if your broadband connection was 20 times faster than it is now. So it’s interesting that The Economist has chosen this moment to touch on a topic that we associate with pre-coronavirus times, the dispute between Huawei and the US President: “The Chinese firm keeps on growing; the rollout of 5G in China continues apace; and most of America’s allies have so far ignored its entreaties to ban Huawei gear entirely from their national 5G networks on security grounds”.

As the Economist goes on to say “The problem with America’s strategy is that it is trying to win today’s “tech cold war” with yesterday’s arsenal. In effect it is trying to build an impenetrable wall around Huawei by any means necessary. This is a fool’s errand in a hyper-connected world in which technology and talent can flow freely. It only provides extra incentives for Huawei – and China – to become technologically self-sufficient. If America wants to win the race to 5G and, more generally, the battle for digital supremacy, it needs a new approach. Happily, the country’s own technology industry points the way: it has thrived on openness, software and a healthy balance of competition and co-operation. And that approach is at last now being applied in telecoms”.

With the conclusion that this current crisis is a good time for some new thinking, the article concludes: “America will either pursue a tech cold war with an uncertain outcome, or help create an industry of the kind that American tech firms understand and have thrived in – letting Chinese companies join in only if they follow the rules”. Remember those words. In my opinion, this is the blueprint for a more peaceful, collaborative and interconnected world after this is all over.

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