Sep 22, 2018

The global race for 5G

Illustration: Sarah Grillo, Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The advent of 5G has turned into a serious geopolitical fight — actually, two.

Why it matters: Being first brings the opportunity to take the lead with the kinds of never-before-possible apps that exploit a new generation of network capabilities. For example, in being first with 4G, the U.S. was able to lead the way with services like Uber and Snapchat.

Fight #1: The race to get 5G networks up and running.

  • It's a three-way game right now among the U.S., China, and South Korea.
  • Different studies predict different winners depending on what they measure —first to launch, first to achieve broad coverage, and so on.
  • The U.S. is set to have initial 5G smartphone service next year with some very early commercial launches for mobile broadband this year.
  • While the U.S. may be technically first with 5G in a few places, China is spending significantly more and will likely be first with 5G en masse.
  • Some European carriers have been slower to move.

Fight #2: The competition over whose technology will power the networks.

  • U.S. security concerns about Chinese equipment have loomed large, and Huawei is one of the major suppliers.
  • As it has in the past, the U.S. won't allow Huawei to supply gear to major U.S. telecom firms, favoring European players Ericsson and Nokia (as well as Korea's Samsung).
  • These concerns that prompted some U.S. officials to ponder earlier this year whether the country needed to nationalize the 5G effort, though that idea was flawed and faded fast.
  • Worries about Chinese influence over 5G is a big reason why the Trump administration blocked Broadcom's attempt to purchase Qualcomm.

Be smart: The U.S. has no major cellular network equipment makers. Chipmaker Qualcomm is the biggest American player in the underlying 5G technology.

What they're saying: "I don't want the United States to win just so we can wave the flag saying we're number one," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told Axios. Past winners of network races have "reaped a disproportionate amount of the benefits for their citizens."

  • A study commissioned by the cell phone trade group CTIA estimated that U.S. companies won $125 billion in revenue by leading in 4G.

Go deeper: Why being first in 5g matters (WSJ)

Go deeper

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.