Trump’s administration sanctions on Huawei has put the company under challenges. The United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan among others decided to stop working with the Chinese telecom giant. However, Huawei has shown greater optimism after Joe Biden wins US presidential election. “When there is a change in government, there is always the opportunity to reset relationships. The unit of Huawei focuses on deploying 5G networks”, Paul Scanlan, Chief Technology Officer at Huawei Carrier Business Group told CNBC.
Once US elections results were announced, the advocacy involving US-China relations- particularly Huawei- emerged. On Twitter, Huawei lovers are asking US President to remove the sanctions imposed by Trump over the company. On November 10, 2020, US President Joe Biden tweeted “When I’m speaking to foreign leaders, I’m telling them: America is going to be back. We’re going to be back in the game”. One response to this tweet was, “Make Huawei great again”. For the Chinese telecom giant, there is hope as Biden “has labeled China as a competitor, not a threat”, states South China Moring Post.
Also, and back to November 16, 2020, the Working Group on Science and Technology in the US-China Relations released a report entitled “ Meeting the China Challenge: A New American Strategy for Technology Competition”. The report emphasizes that “AI and 5G present larger risks requiring new safeguards, but wholesale US separation from China will not protect these dynamic technologies”. On the other hand, the report calls on the US to pursue a layered approach for risk mitigation. “The risks associated with Huawei can justify a ban on some products by some countries, but total global exclusion of Huawei is not feasible—nor is Huawei the only risk”, states the report.
Again, the US allies who were convinced by the US claims over Huawei posing risks on their network are in the loop. For Huawei officials, the UK’s decision to ban Huawei from the core 5G network was political rather than technical. The US has conducted advocacy to persuade its allies to remove Huawei from its 5G network. Back in July 2020, the UK PM Boris Johnson took a U-turn decision which banned Huawei from working on 35% of the network. According to The Guardian, the Chinese Telecom giant Vice President Victor Zhang said “I hope the government will keep an open mind and, once they review the economic consequences, look to see if there is a better way forward.” Back in June, Inside Telecom wrote about Huawei’s UK R&D center which was built after the PM’s U-turn. The UK is still working with Huawei but was obliged to consent on removing the company from its core 5G network following US sanctions.
There are no clear directions from the European countries on how they will deal with Huawei post-elections. However, Huawei’s defiant move towards European countries can be a game changer. Recently, in a letter to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Huawei argues that Romania and Poland both deciding to remove Huawei from their core 5G network has violated the EU Law. The letter mentioned that the two countries have signed an MOU with the US aiming to exclude Huawei. However, it seems that Huawei has started to implement a new legal strategy to respond to such actions taken against them.
A few months ago, experts said that the US is already behind on 5G technology and should therefore start thinking about how to lead the 6G revolution. The Washington Post argues that Biden will work on enhancing the United States technology capacity by working on immigration. “Key sectors of the US economy, from agriculture to technology, rely on immigration”, according to Biden’s plan.
China Mobile dominates with largest 5G user base across the country
China continues to take giant leaps forward, as its largest telecoms operator, China Mobile, added a whopping 15.2 million 5G subscribers in October alone, according to a statement published by the telco.
The statement highlighted that it ended the month with a total of 128.8 million 5G subscribers, compared to 6.7 million at the beginning of the year.
China Mobile currently boasts the largest subscriber pool on the planet, as it recorded a total of 946.34 million overall subscribers, up by three million from the same time last year.
The telco has already constructed and setup almost 385,000 5G base stations across the country.
“Our growth has only been made possible by the support of all shareholders, customers and members of the general public, as well as the dedication and relentless efforts of China Mobile employees at all levels,” Yang Jie, Chairman of China Mobile, said in a statement.
Yang added that the company is ahead of schedule in its annual 5G rollout targets, as the telco cements its place as having the world’s largest 5G SA network.
In parallel, rivals China Telecom added 7.06 million subscribers this month, making their total 5G subscribers reach 71.86 million. It remains unknown if China Unicom is keeping up the race with its rivals, as the telco has yet to release their 5G numbers.
However, both China Unicom alongside China Telecom jointly build and operate over 300,000 5G base stations across the country.
China’s government earlier announced the installation of nearly 700,000 5G base stations to date, as it has successfully exceeded its initial target of 500,000.
This figure is already double the number of 5G base stations built outside China, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
In addition, Chinese tech titan Huawei forecasts 5G users to represent 20 percent of total mobile users in both China and South Korea by the end of June 2021, President of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, Ryan Ding, was quoted as saying during a presentation at a company forum.
China is currently leading the line in terms of 5G development and rollout, as it received a major boost from its government when its MIIT officially issued licenses for launching commercial 5G networks across the country.
The permits were granted to the country’s elite four, which are China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.
5G has already become the new norm within large cities such as the capital, Beijing, and Shenzhen with citizens enjoying full 5G coverage.
The global fight to regulate 5G is happening right now
Almost everywhere you look, there’s a story about 5G and its impact on humanity from every conceivable aspect.
The fifth generation of mobile networks has dominated tech headlines far and wide, where every telco, tech news outlet, and private tech firm has flooded the Internet with 5G content as far as the finger can click.
No one is challenging the basis of these claims since they’re true.
Ubiquitous 5G coverage will proliferate new services and will be necessary to accommodate the growing Internet of Things (IoT), which provides constant broadband connections to a variety of new devices and applications.
From telcos and ISPs to startups and governments, retailers harnessing the power of machine learning, all business models and operations will be touched by a new era of ultrafast connectivity, and an explosion of devices.
Investors from all walks of life are looking at each and every opening to sync their teeth into a newly connected future that promises major returns, no matter the industry.
Because of that, 5G will not be a niche regulatory issue – all parts of the global economy and political landscape will be affected.
The 5G race is currently in its prime both domestically and internationally; which is why governments around the world are starting to take action to spur deployment while simultaneously looking at regulatory solutions to remedy privacy, security, and safety concerns.
Thus, the impact of regulating the fifth generation of mobile networks will cause a ripple affect shaping how we deal with the technologies of the future, as countries weigh the balance between the public and private sectors.
The UK has been fierce in its attempts to ensue safety on it’s 5G capabilities, and has introduced a new bill giving the government the power to leave out any vendor it deems as high-risk to it’s telecoms infrastructure.
High-risk vendors are being categorized as those who pose large security and resilience risks to UK telecoms. The telecoms security bill aims to forge national security powers to be able to control if a telecoms firm can use materials supplied by outside vendors.
Previous rallies against Huawei in the UK have increased in the past couple of months, with British premier Boris Johnson imposing a ban on the tech titan’s involvement in the country’s 5G infrastructure, while tasking local telcos to remove and replace current Huawei equipment from usage on a deadline set for 2027.
In parallel, a group of British lawmakers published a report citing 5G security concerns relating to Huawei’s collusion and close ties with China’s “Communist Party apparatus,” as they urged the PM to shorten the banning period.
In other words, the UK has publicly declared Huawei to be person non grata within their future plans.
The bill being studied in parliament also contains security protocols that would fine UK networks of 10 percent of turnover or £100,000 a day for those who do not meet the new standards.
The country’s communications regulatory body, Ofcom, is set to be tasked with monitoring and assessing security protocols among telecom providers.
“We are investing billions to roll-out 5G and gigabit broadband across the country but the benefits can only be realized if we have full confidence in the security and resilience of our networks,” Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden told reporters.
Dowden added that this bill will give the UK one of the toughest telecoms security regimes in the world and would allow for necessary action to protect their networks.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) issued a statement saying that the current “self-governance laws in which telecoms providers were responsible for setting their own security standards, did not work.”
A statement echoed by the country’s Telecoms Supply Chain Review, considered that self-regulation offers little incentives to adopt the best security practices.
The 5G security concerns, which were ignited by the Trump administration’s trade spat with China, includes espionage, sabotage, and blackmail. The U.S. government considers Huawei as a security risk and has urged allies to shun its equipment over fears it could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services.
Ironically, while initial pressure to cut off Huawei and the likes have originated from the United states, there doesn’t seem to be serious talks or bills of regulating 5G networks across the Atlantic Ocean.
While U.S. Congress, from both sides of the aisle, have agreed on the importance of American 5G from a technological standpoint, the importance of protecting these networks from prying eyes and cyberattacks have barely scratched the surface.
There is no doubt that the United States is playing catch-up compared to its competitors such as China, but it’s also playing the same game with its allies.
At least 23 legislative items that specifically mention or address 5G—10 in the Senate and 13 in the House—have been introduced in the 116th Congress. Most are bipartisan and many are also bicameral, meaning the same text is supported by both Democrats and Republicans and has been introduced in both the House and the Senate.
But many have doubted the capability of the 116th Congress to be able to forge any response that will realistically change the course of US 5G deployment and security of its networks.
Experts forecast that 5G will remain a private-sector-led initiative in the US; especially since there doesn’t seem to be consensus on whether regulations will address sensitive issues such infrastructure installation, equipment to be used, pricing, security, or privacy.
In retrospect, a Biden presidency doesn’t exactly translate into a more lenient view of Huawei, regardless of the fact that the president-elect will be more consistent in his approach with the East Asian powerhouse.
However, not all of the U.S.’s rivals are technologically flourishing like China.
Russia, on the other hand, has imposed tight exposure limits for radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), which have been laid out by the country’s Digital Economy Program, which sees much more stringent standards than what’s internationally accepted.
This has pushed GSMA to publicly advise Russia to relax those measures, since these overly strict regulations will hinder the country’s 5G deployment, forcing it to fall behind other countries with regards to its digital transformation.
“While Russia’s standards reflect public concerns about the relative safety of mobile technologies, the GSMA stresses that the risk is extraordinarily low, and that studies have shown that using a mobile phone or living near a base station does not lead to any adverse health effects,” GSMA said in a statement.
The organization specifically cited the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which published new international guidelines after analyzing 20 years of health research. Those guidelines are far more permissive than Russia’s, which the GSMA argues are not based on medical evidence.
“The updated international safety guidelines were adopted this year by Poland and Lithuania, among others,” GSMA VP and Europe, Russia and CIS Policy and Regulation Head Daniel Pataki, was quoted saying, adding that, “Russia has a critical opportunity to spur growth if leaders enact reforms now.”
Despite the potential hiccups, GSMA expects 5G to account for 20 percent of the mobile connections in Russia by 2025. The organization nevertheless believes that the country’s rules for the operation of radio facilities will slow the growth of the network, as will the country’s bureaucratic approval process for development projects.
Zipping back to the heart of the EU, Germany is currently battling to reach a consensus within the government that a telecoms vendor poses a national security threat in order to exclude its equipment from national 5G networks, according to draft legislation reviewed by Reuters.
The latest version of the IT Security Law follows months of wrangling in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, which has been split over how to craft a political mechanism for judging whether a vendor can be trusted or not.
The consensus will prove vital for the future of China’s Huawei on German land, as the bill attempts to form a bridge between Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is for close trade relations with China, and her coalition partners in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who, led by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, are hawkish towards Beijing.
As governments around the world attempt to set the stage for the next generation of mobile networks, the decisions made now, and in the near future, will most likely shape our interactions with the technological world as we know it.
5G consumer market set to hit the ground running
With the fifth generation of mobile technologies beginning its tortoise like rollout worldwide, the 5G consumer market is forecast to cash in on 31$ trillion by the year 2030, according to a recent report published by Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson.
The report forecasts that communications service providers (CSPs) could earn $3.7 trillion of that total, a figure that will most likely keep on rising in parallel to the digital services opportunities that accompany such a technological leap.
“It is clear that 5G will drive enormous opportunities for CSPs in consumer business over the decade. As this journey is already underway, those CSPs that quickly and proactively evolve their consumer propositions are likely to be bigger winners,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi, Head of ConsumerLab at Ericsson Research.
By being proactive in driving 5G differentiation, service providers could gain a 34 percent higher 5G ARPU by 2030, growing their consumer revenues at a CAGR of 2.7 percent up to 2030 as opposed to flat revenues with a passive approach, which equals revenue up to $131 billion.
“About 40 percent of these revenue projections are attributed to consumer spending on enhanced video, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cloud gaming over 5G networks,” Ericsson’s report added.
Key findings have shown that augmented reality (AR) will be the main player in the phase to come, as it will drive half of all consumer spending on immersive media by 2030.
AR gaming as the highest ranked AR application amongst consumers, with gaming likely to be the main initial driver for AR. Other application areas for AR, such as TV and video viewing, home planning and school and educational usage, will follow.
“Almost 67 percent of gamers claim they will increase their AR usage in the next five years. It is clear AR is poised to make its mark on society, and media consumption is going to be a key component of immersive experiences on the augmented road ahead,” the report explained.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in impacting consumer purchasing power, reducing the willingness of paying a 20 percent 5G premium; however, according to Ericsson, one in three global early adopters are still willing to pay the premium.
“More time spent at home during the pandemic has resulted in increased interest in investing in emerging 5G-enhanced digital services, such as cloud gaming, immersive education (like digital AR books for kids) or services that offer remote digital live event experiences,” the report continued.
Some markets have seen rapid adoption as service providers launched a range of attractive tariffs bundled with innovative services, with South Korea exceeding 13.2 percent penetration of the mobile market with 9.25 million subscribers moving to 5G.
With attractive service bundling, Chinese service providers sold over 100 million 5G tariffs by the end of the second quarter of 2020, though only 64 million 5G phones are reported as shipped.
“By the end of 2020 we expect to see over 190 million 5G subscriptions,” the report said, adding that “as a result, 5G adoption is far more rapid than previous generations, and is likely to break the 20 percent level for share of mobile subscriptions 2 years faster than 4G.”
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