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Qualcomm touts 5G wireless during an event at CES this year. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

5G wireless networks, a segment of the wireless infrastructure that Trump's National Security Council may seek to nationalize, are expected to deliver data up to 100 times faster than any mobile technology available today.

Why it matters: 5G — shorthand for the fifth generation of wireless networks — will enable a wide range of products, including self-driving cars, virtual reality and other parts of the growing Internet of Things that all rely on super-fast connectivity.

How it works
  • Data moves quickly along high frequency airwaves but those airwaves get stopped by objects in their path. That means that providers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile would have to use collections of smaller transmitters to deliver those revolutionary speeds to phones and other devices rather than the classic large cell towers, which have a longer range.
  • The wireless industry forecasts that building nationwide 5G networks will require 300,000 new cell cites (the size of pizza boxes) to be erected by 2020. For comparison, there are currently 150,000 cell towers in existence today.
  • Providers could also build 5G networks using more reliable, but lower-frequency, airwaves. This is the chunk of spectrum that the Trump administration is talking about nationalizing.
What it does

The promise of 5G is not just that consumers will have faster data speeds, but offers two other key benefits:

  1. Less lag as data moves across the network. That makes it more feasible, for example, to control an industrial machine remotely or to communicate information in real time to a self-driving car.
  2. While 4G was aimed primarily at smartphones, 5G is designed to handle phones plus all manner of Internet-of-things devices. Some of these devices need very fast connections, while others are tiny sensors that need only a trickle of communication.

Go deeper

Anti-Trump lawmakers' private security expenses ballooned after Jan. 6 riot

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on April 14. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News.

Between the lines: Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

1 hour ago - World

Jimmy Lai among Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders sentenced to prison

Students standing under a banner during a flag raising ceremony on the first annual National Security Education Day in Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Hong Kong court sentenced a group of the city's most prominent pro-democracy activists to up to 18 months in prison Friday for organizing a massive unauthorized protest in August 2019 that drew an estimated 1.7 million people, AP reports.

Why it matters: Critics say the sentences send the message that even peaceful pro-democracy activism will be severely punished. They mark a continuation of Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's political structure, designed to crack down opposition to the Chinese Communist Party.

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.