Huawei and 5G Technology. US-China Confrontation

First-generation mobile technology offered only analogue calls and no browsing, data transfer or SMS. Even though today’s 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks, which started to roll out a decade before, featured all these key services and represented both evolution and revolution, 5G will be a real sensation.

 

Newer series of cellular network technology introduces driverless cars and healthcare systems built on top of it and brings faster downloads and uploads, reduced lag time, smarter devices and rapider streaming for Netflix or YouTube with predicted speeds of up to 100x compared to 4G, round-trip transmission of data taking less than five milliseconds and increased bandwidth.

 

As of early 2020, US-disseminated security concerns had bungled to stem the rise of Chinese telco Huawei that led global market with 91 commercial contracts and shipped 600,000 5G Massive MIMO Active Antenna Units (AAUs) while Swedish Ericsson and Finish Nokia trailed behind with 81 and 63 deals across world.

 

Washington has two major concerns with the world’s largest telecoms firm, Huawei. One, there is no company in American trillion-dollar Silicon Valley that can compete with low-cost, niche quality services provided by Shenzhen-based tech goliath. Two and indeed most excruciating for the US, it’s a whale from a strategic competitor that is supercharged and cruising along.

 

The underlying forebodings in an era of 5G infrastructure development last year pushed the US Commerce Department to add Huawei and its affiliates to the entity list for advancement of America’s national security and foreign policy objectives and promotion of its strategic technology leadership.

But by granting and continuously extending 90-day reprieve to Huawei through Temporary General License (TGL) as late as May 2020, allowing domestic consumers and companies to working with it, US admitted that it had no better replacement for Chinese telco giant and whatever there were, they lacked mettle to really challenge most valuable brand and innovative enterprise in world.

 

The US confronts another critical issue. Owing to low population and high infrastructure installation cost, major 5G infrastructure vendors are often shy to work in US rural areas. Huawei not only has invested and provided services in remote locations globally, in fact most of its customers in the US are rural Americans.

 

In February, US Senate unanimously passed bill to pay rural telecom carriers $1 billion to “rip and replace” any gear in their networks from Huawei and ZTE. While the amount was only half of what FCC head Geoffery Starks estimated, users might resist plans to revise or eliminate TGL after August 13.

 

Additionally As 5G is a more integrated and intelligent network than 3G or 4G that will technically sit on existing infrastructure so removing Huawei completely, from core of any network or even phasing it out won’t be an easy task over huge costs and massive delays and eventually, same set of security threats will occur when companies other than Huawei would be contracted.

 

Of Five Eyes nations, the US has so far swayed Australia, New Zealand and lately the UK to ban telecoms equipment purchases from Huawei whereas Canada is yet to decide. As Washington presses Europe to drop it from building their 5G networks, the sanctions – like Britain set to suffer $3.6 billion losses and delay 5G rollout by three years – could cost the region to endure $62 billion and defer deployment by 18 months.

 

Experts warn efforts to coerce and damage Huawei would reciprocate in at least equal costs, if not greater, to the US. They believe that due to the global system – characterized by complex and deep interdependence in economic, security and political relationships – current US policy against Huawei has a very little chance to succeed.

 

Whole structure being constructed around Huawei is thus internally hollow, plagiarized and brimmed with illusionary and perfidious ruses. In reality, the US anti-Huawei campaign is driven by fear of Chinese technological dominance, the cost of which would result in only delayed global access to 5G technology.

Azhar Azam works in a private organization as “Market & Business Analyst” and writes on geopolitical issues and regional conflicts.

 

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