5G, the fifth-generation mobile network, is set to legitimately change our world. It will lead to advancements in technology that will cause big changes not just in our phones but in our cities and our lives. It will lead to trillions of dollars in growth across the global economy, and all of the major tech companies and governments are trying to get it in on the profit.
One of the countries that are getting in on 5G early is the United Kingdom. One would expect them to get 5G before other countries, but the problem for the United States is that they are using the Chinese tech firm Huawei to build their 5G network.
Huawei & the United States
The United States sees Huawei as an agent of the Chinese government because they have been accused of allowing Beijing to listen to user’s conversations and enabling them to spy on government officials and companies. The US has banned all Huawei products due to this, and they have been putting pressure on allies like the United Kingdom.
According to the site MoneyPug, which is used to compare mobile phones, Huawei has constructed six of the seven 5G Vodafone networks in the UK, which includes cities like Glasgow and London, and it has “helped” with hundreds of sites. Four major tech companies in the UK are using Huawei. Furthermore, if the United Kingdom doesn’t use Huawei in order to see to it that the networks are set up and ran correctly, they will likely fall behind.
Huawei has denied the accusations that they allow Chinese government officials to access recordings and phone data, but the use of their services is a gamble for mobile phone service providers. Running the 5G network will cost a lot more. But the US government is intent on blocking the firm, referencing the security risks of the situation. The Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, said that he would guarantee Huawei would not pass on intelligence gained from the 5G network.
Pressure, Advancements, & the Deal
The US will continue to put pressure on the United Kingdom not to do business with Huawei, but the UK has struck a deal with the company. The push to get ahead is real, and the speed 5G will provide is unmatchable. Not only will the network lead to countless technological advancements, but it is also to set to add millions if not billions of dollars to their economy.
Despite that working with Huawei is enticing, the US remains firmly against the company. Recently they threated Britain that if they don’t stop doing business with Huawei that they would pull out of a Post-Brexit trade deal. This puts the UK in a tough position. They need to choose between the risk of losing a trade deal with the United States and pulling out of a deal with Huawei that will lead to technological advancements and boost their economy. Everything comes with a price, and while working with Huawei means that the UK will have a ubiquitous 5G network, it also means that they may get spied on.
5G & the Future
The pressure to get out of working with Huawei may be bigger than the push to establish an efficient 5G network. If the UK doesn’t end up working with the Chinese firm, it doesn’t mean that they won’t get 5G. It will be more expensive, and it will take longer to make the network fast and widespread, but they will still get the fifth-generation mobile network before most countries.
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At present, there are a few countries who will surely get it before the others. South Korea is live with 5G and both the UK and the US are on their way. With this network, the world will change. Self-driving cars will be on the roads. Cities will be better connected to each other. Artificial intelligence will be enhanced. Virtual reality will be easier to access and will have higher quality. 4K video will be streamed on phones. Larger files will be sent more quickly and easily. Everything will become more connected and efficient. This is why there is so much political contention surrounding the issue, whoever gets access to not just the 5G technology but the revenue that results from