Talking about technology should be a piece of cake for tech-bloggers like me, but for 5G, it’s not. And simply because these are not just banal tech-talk anymore, there is international politics, policies and the centre of all; 5G. The very same 5G that we all are passionately waiting for even though we don’t have 5G smartphones in our hands. I hope that comes soon, but the way 5G, wait for a second, the way India is going forward with 5G is controversial, and not many people are talking about it.
What is the roleplay of 5G in India?
There is an idea behind 5G, the next generation of internet, the superfast speed, the era of cyberpunk, autonomous driving, and artificial intelligence; you name it it’s there. What people are not aware of is that 5G is expensive. The tech market doesn’t have significant market competition in 5G hardware; there are only a few companies who can even capture this market like Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung, and the centre of all is Huawei.
5G can bring changes at an unprecedented rate to not just the internet habit of netizens, but to the Indian economy, education, health sector, and god know whatnot. The very idea of 5G is to revolutionize everything. To paint a picture, remember what happened when 3G came, digital communication became a new norm, video calling was introduced, smartphone culture started, information became available at your fingertip, and that was just 2mbps of speed. But when 4G came it changed everything, HD video calling became banal, information was consumed as a video clip, online education became legit, live mobile TV threw out the traditional media, and that was just 50mbps on paper. A report published in The Times of India states that the current average 4G speed in India stands at 6mbps. There is no imagination of what 5G will do with 1gbps(1024mbps) speed. The idea behind 5G is not just an upgrade to speed, it is and it will going to revolutionise the internet game altogether.
Cross Border Politics
Huawei, in particular, is a brand that has a good name but its headquarter is in Shenzen, China, and because it’s in China, it’s in controversy for not a very good reason. I’ll try to fill you up. In May 2019, President Trump issued a national emergency and barred US companies for using information and communication technology from foreign companies.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks that provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure, It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, and it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in his testimony.
A few days after that incident Google backed out from its Android OS tie-up with Huawei. Which bars Huawei to use the latest Android OS and Google Play Services for its smartphone. This step will make Huawei loose millions of customers because of the vast nature of Google application being used among users. A Forbes report published on November 28, 2019, states that Google’s decision remains the same even after six months, in the report Huawei CEO has also said that “There is no turning back, once the Huawei OS Harmony is launched.”
On August 6, 2019, Reuters reported that Chinese officials may implement “Reverse sanctions” on Indian firms if Huawei is blocked in India. After a few months of this statement on December 31, 2019, The Economic Times reported that the Indian government has allowed Huawei to enter in the 5G trail market despite US objections. Other countries who have allowed Huawei are Russia, France, The Netherland,, and South Korea and countries like Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand are with the US on this matter.
There is no clear picture of who-says-to-whom-and-who-to-trust. Trump Administration and the Chinese Administration have a messy track record. Check out this podcast for more closer, but here’s what it is, a Vice News reporter William Turton responded to Huawei’s offer to go to China and see for himself what Huawei is doing and what is their smartphone making process, especially the security check. His finding again creates a vivid picture of Huawei, given to the fact that Huawei’s CEO Mr Ren Zhengfei is a prominent member of the Communist party.
But that’s not just the end of the politics, the sinking relation between the two countries has created suspicions among users and tech experts but allowing Huawei for the 5G trails is a big step.
The Current State of 5G
As of now, there are more than ten countries that have adopted 5G network partially, South Korea, US, Canada, UK, Japan, China, UAE, Saudi Arabia and many more, and soon 5G will expand in those countries as the user base increases.
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India is expected to conduct the 5G trails in 2020 and has invited all the major 5G equipment vendors i.e Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Samsung. Experts have claimed that Huawei’s 5G equipment is much cheaper and advance in terms of technology to its rivals. A recent study published by the Oxford Economics states that restricting Huawei in 5G may cause a GDP loss of $4.7 billion to India by 2035.
Despite this hassle-bustle of 5G in India, Huawei and the US. If we talk about 5G telecommunication in general then it’s not just another speed upgrade, it’s expected to become the next ‘General purpose technology’(GPT), like electricity. Economy, Education, Smart Cities, Industries, Driverless cars, and Robots will need all fuel on 5G. So, any country having any perspective should take 5G technology with absolute caution. Vietnam has aimed to develop its own domestic 5G equipment in 2020, even the Indian government has funded a $34 million 5G in India demonstrator involving several IITs and IISc. Still, it’s not up to the mark with the competitive tech. Telecom companies like Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone aren’t enthusiastic in investing underdeveloped technology, they seek profit and Huawei can give them that. But the question remains the same, should India go with Huawei despite the security & privacy controversy? That we will see in the future…
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