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China, US rushing to develop 5G networks

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-01-30 23:30

5G, the next-generation wireless network, is an emerging technology that many believe will have major implications for business, the military and national security.

5G's profile was raised after the news outlet Axios reported that a National Security Council official suggested that the US government take over the deployment of a 5G network to counter cybersecurity fears about China.

But the top US communications regulator, wireless companies and some lawmakers oppose such a move.

"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," Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by Trump, said in a statement on Monday.

Basically, 5G offers extremely fast wireless communication that will dramatically increase the speed at which data is transferred. 5G will make it easier to download and upload Ultra HD and 3D video and connect thousands of internet-connected devices.

"(The) first generation was the very first, analog, mobile networks in the 1980s and 1990s, and 2G was the first digital mobile in the 1990s and early 2000s," said Aija Leiponen, a professor at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

"The core idea regarding 5G is to enable the 'Internet of Things' (like) automated machine-to-machine communication between devices and appliances, the smart electricity grid and home appliance networks, in addition to industrial networks," Leiponen said. "A key consumer application may be augmented reality that requires much more bandwidth than current telecom networks can provide."

She said American companies like Cisco, Verizon, Intel and Qualcomm are investing in the technology together with European and Asian partners like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and LG. "IBM is also doing significant R&D (research and development) in this area," Leiponen said.

As two major US telecommunication companies (AT&T Corp and Verizon) said they intend to offer limited 5G service this year, China is also busy developing super-fast 5G.

A report from the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology predicted that 5G will drive 6.3 trillion yuan ($990 billion) of economic output in the mainland by 2030.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp are two of the companies working to develop 5G and related technologies.

Ma Si in Beijing and Reuters contributed to this story.

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