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Trump: “Race to 5G is a Race that we Must Win”

"We cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future," Trump said in the White House

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5G, trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks next to Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai during an event on U.S. 5G deployment in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, April 12, 2019. VOA

In the race to beat China in the fifth generation of wireless technology, known as 5G, U.S. President Donald Trump is announcing the largest-ever auction of radio frequencies and a $20 billion fund to build a rural fiber-optics backbone.

“We cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future,” Trump said in the White House Roosevelt Room, flanked by a group of telecommunications tower climbers and farmers. “The race to 5G is a race that we must win.”

Starting Dec. 10, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin auctioning three chunks of millimeter-wave frequencies (upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz) for cellphone companies to use.

Some Trump allies had tried to persuade him to effectively nationalize this technology as a matter of national security.

5G, trump, china
FILE – People stand next to a 5G logo during the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 28, 2018. VOA

Trump acknowledged that he considered such a plan — opposed by the FCC and others — but ultimately backed away from it.

“We don’t want to do that. It wouldn’t be nearly as good, nearly as fast,” Trump said.

“The idea of state-designed and -operated 5G networks in the U.S. makes no sense on its own terms. A competitive, lightly regulated market is the hallmark of the U.S. system. This has delivered success in 4G and will encourage investment and innovation in 5G,” London-based Gabriel Brown, a principal analyst at telecommunications research firm Heavy Reading, told VOA.

“It also makes no sense in relation to competition with China — these are different markets in different phases of development.”

Riley Walters, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, agreed, saying the “private sector is the most efficient way to distribute 5G capabilities, even if it’s not at the pace nationalization proponents would like to see. Deregulation should help cut the costs for domestic developers to move up their time horizon.”

Connecting America

5G — with speeds 100 times faster than the current 4G mobile internet — will allow the emergence of everything from so-called smart cities and farms to self-driving cars.

“We want Americans to be the first to benefit from this new digital revolution while protecting our innovators and our citizens,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We don’t want rural Americans to be left behind.”

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FILE – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai answers a question from a reporter in Washington, Dec. 14, 2017. VOA

The $20.7 million Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, to come from existing FCC subsidy coffers, is intended to connect up to 4 million American homes over the next decade.

The expensive fiber rollout is seen as essential for carrying wireless network communications back to internet hubs.

“Intervention at this level will encourage private investment and accelerate coverage in these hard-to-reach areas — the economic and social benefits of rural coverage make it worth intervening to help make the market work,” Brown said.

“Creating a national fund to support these innovators is a great idea,” said Prakash Sangam, the founder of Tantra Analyst, which is involved in marketing and business development of wireless technology. “I also suggest that the U.S. government intervene and facilitate the resolution of conflicts between American technology companies so that they collaborate and effectively compete against the companies sponsored by foreign governments.”

Security concerns

One challenge is the lack of U.S. manufacturers of 5G network equipment, an arena where China’s Huawei and ZTE are set to dominate.

Trump’s 5G goals are in conflict with the Federal Trade Commission’s stance on Qualcomm, the world’s largest chipmaker. The FTC has sued the American company over anti-competitive pricing, according to technology analyst Patrick Morehead.

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FILE – A sign advertises 5G at the Qualcomm booth at CES International in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

“Qualcomm is the country’s only hope for 5G and 6G leadership and with the FTC about to potentially hobble it, the U.S. will never be a leader, China will,” predicted Morehead, a former industry executive.

A State Department senior official on Wednesday said the security concerns about Huawei and ZTE extend to all companies headquartered in China, contending they are effectively “under direction” of the Chinese Communist Party.

“It’s very important to distinguish how Western democracies operate relative to their private sector companies and vendors, and how the Chinese government operates with its companies,” said Ambassador Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy.

Strayer and other officials have warned that Huawei and ZTE could give China’s intelligence services secret access to sensitive communications networks and the ability to send commands to disrupt communications.

Trump did not mention the Chinese companies in his remarks Friday, but he said America’s 5G networks will “have to be guarded from the enemy.”

5G, trump, china
FILE – Attendees take pictures of the new Huawei Mate X foldable 5G smartphone during the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 25, 2019. VOA

Riley, at the Heritage Foundation, told VOA that the United States “can still limit the proliferation of imports that have a security concern, but it will be hard for U.S. companies to compete in price in external markets.”

South Korea last week switched on its nationwide 5G network. South Korea-based Samsung is offering itself as a global alternative to Chinese equipment manufacturers, but it still lags Huawei and ZTE, as well as Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

Wireless companies operating in the United States, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, are deploying 5G this year, but widespread service for the majority of Americans could still be a decade away.

The radio spectrum coming up for auction will have very limited range, meaning small cell antennas will have to be mounted on about every fourth utility pole along streets, making 5G practical only in central business districts and other congested locations, such as stadiums, convention centers and shopping malls.

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Lower frequencies, which are being licensed for 5G in several other countries, would need fewer cell sites, but that spectrum in the United States is held by satellite operators who are reluctant to give it up.

“There are proposals to free some of it for fixed wireless, and the mobile industry wants it for 5G,” Brown said. (VOA)

Next Story

Huawei Wants India to Remove Hurdles for 5G Spectrum

Huawei has been present in India since the last decade in the telecom equipment business and has so far worked with Airtel and BSNL

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A staff member stands in front of a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, March 7, 2019. VOA

Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei on Tuesday said that India should address the constraints in the spectrum availability to make 5G technology-based services a success in the country.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of the Huawei Global Analysts Summit 2019 here Huawei Executive Director David Wang, who is also the company’s ICT strategy head, also pointed out that the Indian telecom market is currently faced with excess competition.

“Huawei would like to see India become more attractive in terms of 5G. We hope to see more changes in the Indian market..there is lack of spectrum for 5G operators which could affect the services. If the constraints present in the 4G is there in 5G as well, then these constraints might hamper growth,” Wang said.

Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu said some of the growth irritants of 4G in India should not be repeated. These problems had made it difficult for telcos to make profits with the 4G spectrum in the face of excessive competition in the telecom services market.

“If operators are struggling to make profits under 4G, I wonder how will they become profitable in 5G. Competition in Indian market is overheated”, Ken said.

“My personal view is that for a very long time after 4G deployment, eMBB will be the main scenario. If operators are already struggling to gain profits on eMBB scenario under 4G, then I wonder how do they make profits under 5G””, he added.

eMBB, or enhanced Mobile Broadband, is one of the three sets of used cases defined for 5G.

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FILE – A woman stands at the booth of Huawei featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijing, China, Sept. 28, 2018. VOA

Huawei which has faced security concerns in some parts of Europe and in the US, said that it is already in the Indian government’s invitee list for 5G trials, as and when these take place.

“We were invited by the Indian government last year to conduct field trials for 5G and also participated in used cases and researches with operators in India. Huawei is deeply engaged with the Indian market on 5G,” Wang said.

“India is similar to China and other growing markets in terms of requirements and ICT and is an important market for us”, he added.

Huawei has undertaken 5G demo trials, alongwith Airtel and Reliance Jio, at the Indian Mobile Congress.

India’s Department of Telecom so far has not taken any decision on the time period for 5G trials as the telecom operators have differences over the quantum of spectrum to be allotted and the duration of the field exercise.

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While the operators demand a one-year minimum period for trial, the government says it only allot spectrum for 90-day trials.

The Indian telecom services market is facing severe competition, with a tariff war unleashed by Reliance Jio already affecting telcos’ bottomlines. They are already complaining about the high high reserve price of the next spe4ctrum auction slated to take place later this year.

Huawei has been present in India since the last decade in the telecom equipment business and has so far worked with Airtel and BSNL. It faces completion from fellow Chinese rival ZTE, Korean major Samsung, and the European firms Ericsson and Nokia. (IANS)