While you might still be struggling to connect to 4G in some areas, here’s something that I think might annoy and please you in equal measure: the 5G revolution is already upon us – and you know who’s driving it? China, of course.
They are blazing the path and leaving others far behind. Their Five-Year Plan – you know, that thing we once had? – calls for investing a further $400 billion in 5G! Gosh…
But wait, before we talk China, let’s get into 5G and its many, many possibilities.
5G is essentially the next generation of mobile internet connectivity – think of it as an upgrade or a step up from what we have now. But it’s a big step up. What you get is faster internet speeds – which means you can torrent quicker (but don’t do that, keep it legal) – and more reliable internet connections – so you don’t have to turn on/turn off your internet when the streaming grinds to a halt.
With 5G, you can expect average download speeds of around 1GB! One millisecond reaction time on 5G is ten times faster than the actual human experience – imagine that!
And, to be clear, we’re not just talking more apps. We’re talking self-driving cars. We’re talking smarter cities.
Now you might ask – surely with all this potential, someone is on top of this game, leading the 5G wave… yep, there is. It’s the Chinese company Huawei. This company owns plenty of 5G intellectual property and can do it all – manufacturing, assembly, installation, and keep it affordable. So if you’re not using Huawei’s services, good luck! Cuz your life would be miserable if you wanted the 5G experience but not from Huawei.
China, naturally, is putting the big bucks into 5G. A good example is a city called Xiangong, near Beijing, which is set to truly become the city of the future, thanks largely to the 5G integration that it’s heading towards. This is all part of the ambitious “Made in China 2025” policy.
Now this massive Chinese tech domination push, with Huawei at the centre of it, has been making many countries feel uneasy. One of them has been the US.
Perhaps the biggest fear has been in connection with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei once having worked as a military technologist with the PLA’s Information Technology research unit. This once-upon-a-time military stint creates suspicion, with the possibility of Chinese espionage through tech gaining odds. You might say, “hey, it’s not like other companies don’t carry out spying” – yes, others do, too, but with respect to China, there is an espionage link that is intended to unfairly benefit its commerce and industry. And there are several sinister possibilities one can make out of that.
There’s an India link to Huawei, too. In 2014, there was allegedly an attack on the BSNL network made from a Huawei machine, although that wasn’t established. It would be prudent for India to exercise caution in its tech dealings with China because of the massive trade imbalance we have with them. We rely heavily on the import of equipment from China, and that carries a risk, no matter how little. And it’s not like India has fixed its telecom security testing – this area is still a work in progress. So, just like with its data protection bill, India needs to be cautious in its approach to foreign telecom tech such as from Huawei – one misstep and there’s a lot that we stand to lose, especially given how data-abundant and data-driven India is going to be in the coming decade.