Global bat­tle for 5G dom­i­nance and its im­pact...

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - PROVINCIAL - BY DAMITHRI MUNASINGHE (Damithri Munasinghe is a Project In­tern at the In­sti­tute of Pol­icy Stud­ies of Sri Lanka (IPS). To talk to the au­thor, email [email protected])

The on­go­ing bat­tle be­tween the US and the Chi­nese tech gi­ant, Huawei, is es­ca­lat­ing due to both par­ties’ ea­ger­ness to dom­i­nate 5G tech­nol­ogy, the next ma­jor globa l tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­ will de­fine the fu­ture of the world wide web, cre­at­ing a new in­ter­net ar­chi­tec­ture.

5G is a net­work which con­nects mil­lions of In­ter­net of Things (IOT) de­vices and is ex­pected to trans­form lives glob­ally. 5G tech­nol­ogy op­er­ates on mil­lime­ter waves, which have lim­ited reach.

Hence, the num­ber of de­vices that are able to con­nect to a single cell tower is lim­ited and there­fore re­quires a great deal of investment­s. Be­ing ready for 5G in­volves build­ing the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture, test­ing, and launch­ing them ef­fec­tively.

Na­tions are com­pet­ing against each other to be­come the global leader in sup­ply­ing this 5G net­work. Ac­cord­ing to the 5G Readi­ness In­dex pre­pared by Analysys Ma­son, USA is tied with China and are in the lead, closely fol­lowed by South Korea and Ja­pan.

Amidst the grow­ing trade war be­tween the US and China, the US gov­ern­ment re­cently black­listed Huawei, cre­at­ing chaos around the globe. This ar­ti­cle at­tempts to high­light the fac­tors that prompted this ac­cel­er­at­ing ten­sion and in turn discuss how it might af­fect Sri Lanka.

Causes for Huawei ban

The de­ci­sion to out­law Huawei stemmed from se­cu­rity con­cerns; the US wanted to avoid the pos­si­ble threat of cy­ber es­pi­onage due to the firm’s al­leged close re­la­tion­ship with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. How­ever, al­though the US black­listed Huawei on the grounds of se­cu­rity, there has been no public ev­i­dence thus far that proves any of the claims made.

With emerg­ing tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances, in­creased se­cu­rity risks are in­evitable. Im­ple­ment­ing new mea­sures to an in­creased scope of cy­ber-safety would tackle this is­sue.

For ex­am­ple, France and Ger­many have agreed to ac­cept Huawei’s tele­com in­fra­struc­ture af­ter strength­en­ing their se­cu­rity mea­sures. De­spite warnings, the UK has also al­lowed Huawei’s con­tri­bu­tion tonon-core el­e­ments of in­fra­struc­ture.

Fol­low­ing the US gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sionto add Huawei to a trade black­list, mak­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the com­pany to do busi­ness with the US, Google halted the com­pany’s an­droid li­cense, re­vok­ing the ser­vices of some critical apps like Google Chrome, Gmail, and the Play Store. this has af­fected Huawei’s sales world­wide.

Sig­nif­i­cance of 5G

The mo­ti­va­tion behind ac­quir­ing 5G in­fra­struc­ture as fast as pos­si­ble has to do with its salient fea­tures, among which the dra­matic im­prove­ment in speed is re­mark­able.

For ex­am­ple, it would take around 26 hours to down­load a high def­i­ni­tion movie us­ing 3G, and just six min­utes with 4G. With 5G, it would take only 3.6 sec­onds. It also has a 1 mil­lisec­ond la­tency rate, which en­ables real time in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. Com­pared to the 4G la­tency rate, this is 60 to 120 times faster. this wire­less tech­nol­ogy also holds great po­ten­tial to pro­mote in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able so­ci­eties by trans­form­ing health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, trans­port and so on. For in­stance, the abil­ity to con­nect au­tonomous cars with street in­fra­struc­ture and other cars along with their ex­act po­si­tion could save up to 22,000 lives, an­nu­ally.

Sim­i­larly, surg­eries could be per­formed from the other side of the world, with ro­botic-sur­geons con­trolled in real-time by ex­pert sur­geons, as­sisted by other sur­geons si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Vir­tual and aug­mented re­al­ity tech­niques could be included in ed­u­ca­tion with the low la­tency rate, mak­ing it efficient. Ro­bots would be able to com­mu­ni­cate their tasks to each other wire­lessly in fac­to­ries, im­prov­ing their pro­duc­tiv­ity. In ad­di­tion to ac­cel­er­at­ing smart city func­tions for ex­am­ple, es­ti­mates sug­gest that 5G tech­nol­ogy can create three mil­lion jobs and con­trib­ute a stag­ger­ing US$500 bil­lion to the GDP of the US.

Sri Lanka’s po­si­tion

This mas­sive break­through in tech­nol­ogy can her­ald sig­nif­i­cant changes in Sri Lanka as well. A few net­work ser­vice providers have al­ready taken ini­tia­tives to de­ploy this tech­nol­ogy in the country.

In 2018, Huawei and Eric­s­son joined hands with Di­a­log Ax­i­ata and car­ried out the first trial of 5G tech­nol­ogy in South Asia.

This demon­stra­tion show­cased the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of 5G us­ing Huawei’s tech­nol­ogy, set­ting a foundation for broad­band’s fu­ture evo­lu­tion.

They also teamed up with Sri Lanka Tele­com and car­ried out a field trial of pre5g LTE tech­nol­ogy. Mo­bi­tel has also stated that they plan to in­vest US$50 mil­lion to em­bark on their 5G net­work.

Be­ing an ac­tive ICT ser­vice provider in the is­land for over 20 years, Huawei has helped Sri Lanka com­mence com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions of 4G-LTE ser­vices, mak­ing it the first country in South Asia to do so. de­spite the cur­rent global is­sues it faces, Huawei plans to de­ploy this tech­nol­ogy in Sri Lanka as soon as pos­si­ble, fo­cus­ing on four main ar­eas: in­vest­ment in knowl­edge trans­fer and hu­man cap­i­tal de­vel­op­ment, in­tro­duc­tion of lat­est technologi­es such as 5G, IOT, AI and cloud, share and fa­cil­i­tate global ex­per­tise for ICT de­vel­op­ments, and of­fer smart city so­lu­tions.

There­fore, if fa­cil­i­tated with ben­e­fi­cial poli­cies, it could boost the country’s GDP as an emerg­ing mar­ket in South Asia, create jobs, and in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity. This would also act as a platform to drive in­no­va­tion in the tech­no­log­i­cal back­drop. How­ever, the high cost, the need for skilled per­son­nel, and se­cu­rity con­cerns re­main chal­lenges in ac­quir­ing 5G.

More­over, highly so­phis­ti­cated in­fra­struc­ture is re­quired to build up this net­work. There­fore, mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble to ru­ral ar­eas is an­other challenge that needs to be con­sid­ered.

In order to reap these ben­e­fits while overcoming these chal­lenges, sri Lanka has to im­ple­ment a flex­i­ble reg­u­la­tory frame­work that keeps up with mod­ern de­vel­op­ments. en­sur­ing data pri­vacy and cy­ber se­cu­rity to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of the cus­tomer is es­sen­tial. en­cour­ag­ing and lay­ing a strong foundation for­long-term investment­s in com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works will also be ben­e­fi­cial.

By work­ing closely with in­dus­tries, in­vestors, and reg­u­la­tors the gov­ern­ment will be able to de­ter­mine how best to de­liver real eco­nomic ben­e­fits. The world econ­omy is at the cusp of fully em­brac­ing an in­ter­net­based so­cio-eco­nomic land­scape, from the pro­duc­tion process to so­cial me­dia.

There­fore, it is vi­tal that Sri Lanka prepares it­self ad­e­quately for these changes and em­brace its ben­e­fits, while cau­tiously ad­dress­ing con­cerns, rather than blindly shun­ning the tech­nol­ogy due to pre­con­ceived bi­ases.


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