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Trump team’s idea to counter China – 5G

January 29, 2018 | Expert Insights

National security officials in the Trump administration are looking at options where the U.S. government could take over a part of the country's mobile network as a way of guarding against China, news outlet Axios reported.


There has been a vast advancement in mobile wireless communication for the last few decades. This innovation consists of a number of 'generations' and is still going on. The journey of mobile wireless communication began with 1G followed by 2G,3G,4G, and under research the upcoming generation 5G.

China has been on the internet intermittently since 1989 and on a permanent basis since 20 April 1994. In 2008, China became the largest population on the internet. As of July 2016, 730,723,960 people (53.2% of the country's total population) were internet users.

China had 618 million Internet users by the end of December 2013, a 9.5 percent increase over the year before and a penetration rate of 45.8%. By June 2014, there were 632 million internet users in the country and a penetration rate of 46.9%. The number of users using mobile devices to access the internet overtook those using PCs (83.4% and 80.9%, respectively).

China replaced the U.S. in its global leadership in terms of installed telecommunication bandwidth in 2011. By 2014, China hosted more than twice as much national bandwidth potential as the U.S., the historical leader in terms of installed telecommunication bandwidth (China: 29% versus US:13% of the global total).

As of March 2017, there are about 700 million Chinese Internet users, and many of them have a high-speed Internet connection. Most of the users live in urban areas but at least 178 million users reside in rural towns.

China's first foray into global cyberspace was an email (not TCP/IP based and thus technically not Internet) sent on 20 September 1987 to University of Karlsruhe.

This month AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers handsets built by China’s Huawei after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators. In 2012, Huawei and ZTE Corp were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure. Some members of the House intelligence committee remain troubled by security threats posed by Huawei and ZTE, according to a congressional aide.

Issues raised in a 2012 committee report about the Chinese firms have “never subsided,” the aide said, adding that there was newer classified intelligence that recently resurfaced those concerns.

To know more about the background click: Huawei- AT&T deal falls through


A memo, which was obtained by news outlet Axios, has proposed the US government should take over the work of deploying a 5G network, with the aim of completing the project within three years. The document states that there is a growing fear that China might become a leader in artificial intelligence technology ahead of the United States.

“Data is the oil of the 21’s century and China has built the world’s largest reserve,” the memo reads. “Building a nationwide secure 5G network sets the condition for future success in the information domain. Not building the network puts us at a permanent disadvantage to China in the information domain.”

It adds, “5G is a type of wireless networking infrastructure designed for fast connectivity of self-driving cars, virtual reality, the internet-of-things, and other technologies that are emerging after the smartphone-centric 4G era we’re currently in. To enable it requires a ton of new infrastructure, and many more transmitters, and the memo’s fears are driven by fears over who’s building it and what sort of reach that will give them.”

T-mobile and Huawei declined to comment on the document. AT&T told Axios it couldn’t comment on the document as it hadn’t seen it, while stressing it was already preparing to launch mobile 5G service. Sprint and Verizon did not respond immediately to emails sent outside of US working hours.

“The U.S. may lead the world in tech research, but China has managed to build better wireless infrastructure that gives people Internet access in more places, according to several executives at the event. One reason is because Chinese telecommunications companies have an easier time building cellular towers”, said Qi Bi, the president of the China Telecom Technology Innovation Center, a research unit of China Telecom. “To build towers in the U.S., companies need approval from multiple government agencies, which he called “a big hassle.” China’s government, in contrast, lets companies build cell towers quickly, providing the country with 10 times as many towers than in the U.S.,” Bi added.


Our assessment is that China’s telecom industry remains subject to some market competition despite the state’s involvement. But it’s still more tightly controlled than the US’s right now. Nationalizing a 5G rollout would mean the US is following the lead of China. We believe that the technology industry’s future depends in large part on the relationship between the U.S. and China. This also signals US’ growing fears of the China’s expanding global influence and its clout.

Read more: US blocks China