July 28, 2019

The United States Must Compete to Innovate in 5G

By Elsa B. Kania

5G promises exciting possibilities and daunting challenges. This transformative technology will be critical to enabling the fourth industrial revolution, creating new industries and new possibilities, while perhaps providing trillions in economic dividends. At present, the United States seems to be situated in a position of relative disadvantage, while China appears to be poised to become a global leader in 5G. The claims by the Trump administration that the United States “is now leading the global race” for 5G should not obscure the reality of this challenge, nor will calls for “America First” in 5G contribute to the right policy choices. American leadership in 5G will depend upon a strategy that recognizes the criticality of not only actively investing in its deployment but also catalyzing new directions in innovation, while prioritizing security and deepening collaboration with allies and partners in the process.

5G is not merely a race to be won, nor should the objective of the United States be simply to deploy it “as soon as possible.” Instead, the deployment and realization of the full potential 5G will play out over at least a decade to come. 5G is not simply faster 4G, but rather creates a new paradigm for connectivity with very high speed, low latency and high throughput. Based on these characteristics, 5G will be integral to realizing the potential of the Internet of Things and promising applications of artificial intelligence, from remote surgeries to autonomous driving in smart cities. In this regard, 5G will become tantamount to critical infrastructure, because its disruption or exploitation could prove deeply damaging, even deadly. Consequently, security will be imperative, and talk of ‘racing’ for 5G risks undermining this critical foundation.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

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