Quantcast
Connect with us

Trump stumbles as smartphone-obsessed America falls far behind in the race to roll out 5G networks

Published

on

Thanks for your support!
This article was paid for by reader donations to Raw Story Investigates.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Dana Kennedy
Dana Kennedy

“Should I get a Huawei phone?”

That’s what friends in New York City, where ads heralding 5G are popping up all over, have asked me more than once. Apple, biding its time, has yet to release an iPhone with 5G.

If the customers are tech heads with money to burn for a new toy, you could say yes. Better to say no.

But here’s the real answer: It’s not about the phone.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s more about how a social media and smartphone-obsessed America may be dropping the ball when it comes to controlling the nascent 5G revolution. China’s Huawei wants to dominate 5G on a global scale.

It doesn’t help that we have a president more interested in making deals than in protecting U.S. security or encouraging innovation … and who doesn’t understand the basics of 5G.

As part of his ongoing trade war with China, Trump has made Huawei into the Voldemort of telecoms.

The average person knows about Huawei because, as part of his ongoing trade war with China, Trump has made it into the Voldemort of telecoms. He’s blacklisting the company ostensibly because it could spy on us and has lobbied U.S. allies not to use its equipment when building their next-generation 5G wireless networks.

Huawei’s also a threat to what Trump called a “race we must win” and a “race we will win” in an awkward April speech about the U.S. rollout of 5G that sounded as if he were reading an old script from “The Jetsons.”

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. Way Behind on 5G

America’s actual chances of winning that race? Said FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, quoting a recent U.S military report on 5G:  “The country that owns 5G will own innovations and set the standards for the rest of the world and that country is currently not likely to be the United States.”

Huawei, established in 1987 when all Chinese telecommunication technology had been imported from abroad, is considered a threat to national security because of close ties to the Chinese government. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Huawei’s increasing global dominance was subsidized by $75 billion in state support.

Huawei has a hot new flagship phone with 5G capability. Yes, and this after starting to make handsets just five years ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

But where the massive Chinese company really beats us, for now, involves the key infrastructure like routers, servers and cell phone towers that will power the Internet of Things and smart factories. 5G has been hyped as the wireless magic that will enable everything from driverless cars to remote surgery.

World’s Largest Equipment Maker

Huawei is the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world and is second only to Samsung in owning the most 5G essential patents. The United States has strong companies like Cisco and Qualcomm (which arguably owns some of the best quality 5G patents) but we are behind when it comes to the most critical components of 5G technology.

ADVERTISEMENT

We lack suppliers for the main switching networks for 5G, so European companies like Nokia and Ericsson will have to build them.

“The U.S. has a big hole when it comes to American-made infrastructure for 5G and it puts us at a real disadvantage,” Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, told DCReport.

“But I don’t think Trump even understands it. Remember when he went to that Apple factory in Texas this fall and said Apple is going to make the 5G network happen. Hello dude! Apple makes phones that connect to the network. They’ve got nothing to do with making the network!”

ADVERTISEMENT

Google Shut Out

You can still shell out for the cool new Huawei Mate 30 Pro—one reviewer called it “the incredible phone you won’t buy.” But because the Trump administration has forced U.S. companies like Google to cut off Huawei, it won’t have the pre-installed Google apps like YouTube and Chrome.

Huawei’s taken a big hit here and around the world as a result of the sanctions and issued a lengthy rebuttal to claims that it’s both dangerous spyware and cheap.

The company, however, is resilient. The company’s top executive in India, Charles Peng, recently announced a rollout next year of replacements for Google’s app suite (GMS) with its own HMS, or Huawei Media Services. On Dec. 30, the Indian government allowed Huawei to participate in trials for 5G networks, Reuters reported.

Even though 5G will show up as simply faster wireless networks for the next two years, watching foreign powers vault past America is a bitter pill for a country that pretty much invented modern telecommunications.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some perspective: Samuel Morse’s first telegraph line was installed in 1844 with the first transcontinental telegraph line laid in 1861. China didn’t get a telegraph line until 1877 and it was only six miles long.

Bell Telephone was founded in 1877 and by 1910 there were more than 6 million telephones in America 

Rapid Growth in China

In contrast, China had only 7,000 phone subscribers in 1910. All were in Beijing and owned only by the very rich who got the technology from the West, according to Eric Harwit, a professor at the University of Hawaii and author of “China’s Telecommunications Revolution.”

When Harwit was an exchange student in Beijing in 1982, “No one had a phone in their house,” he said. Harwit had to go to the Ministry of Communications when he wanted to call his parents back here.

ADVERTISEMENT

Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental phone call from the storied American Telephone & Telegraph building in downtown Manhattan (it now houses Nobu restaurant) to San Francisco in 1915.

Bell could never have imagined that more than a century later, the Chinese would—within two decades—leapfrog past landlines and claim the fastest deployment of telecommunications technology in the world.

“If you’d told me even in 1982 that China would have more mobile phone subscribers and Internet users that any other country it would just not compute,” Harwit said. “They were lagging behind for so long. Now it’s the opposite. I’m just not sure banning them is the way for the U.S. to go. We’re a free market. Instead we should start focusing on what we can bring to 5G.”

The question for the moment, then, is not whether to get a 5G phone—but rather, can the U.S. get 5G?

ADVERTISEMENT

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

The ‘pro-life swing voter’ some moderate Democrats chase is a myth

Published

on

A thing that I do not understand is why journalists assume that Democratic presidential candidates absolutely must respond to pro-life activists, or deal with The Abortion Problem. I sometimes think it's because they teach you in journalism school that every four years Swing Voters sprout from the earth like cicadas demanding propitiation. And if the Swing Voters are not sufficiently placated, all manner of hell will break loose, like Swing Voters clinging to God & guns or refusing to speak to responsible centrist journalists in Midwestern diners so the poor scribblers can't expense their rice pudding. Things happen!

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Michael Bloomberg falls flat as his fellow Democratic candidates pull out the knives at his debate debut

Published

on

It is said that one needs a pretty big ego to run for president, what with all the pomp on the one hand and all the politicking needed on the other.

Still, it has been bracing even to other politicians, even to all the Democratic presidential candidates, even to Donald Trump, to see the chutzpah of Mayor Mike Bloomberg to spend a reported $420 million to date for his late entry into the presidential sweepstakes to present a buffered and polished version of his own self to the field – to say nothing of earning himself seemingly substantial polling success.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Everyone — especially Bernie Sanders — owes Elizabeth Warren for her Bloomberg TKO

Published

on

Finally, after months of overstuffed debates with the stage cluttered up with people who never had a chance, we got a Democratic primary debate whittled down to the (relatively) small number of six candidates — all of whom had a good argument to be there. Well, most of them, anyway. The Las Vegas debate stage on Wednesday night was marred by the presence of information billionaire and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who managed to weasel into a group of serious politicians who have gotten actual votes in the primary just by spending an ungodly amount of money on advertising. Here's what Bloomberg has bought for all that money: His name is now the one pollsters hear from people who don't follow politics, when they're asked about who they're thinking of voting for.

Continue Reading
 
 
close-image