5G Is about More than Fast Speeds - Vivek Kaul's Diary
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5G Is about More than Fast Speeds

Feb 13, 2019

Selva Freigedo

You log into your phone to quickly check something online.

But that 'quickly' soon turns into a minute...five minutes...10.

The page isn't loading.

You notice you only have one bar.

So you move around... eventually getting two bars...four...but the website still isn't loading.

You give up.

Who hasn't experienced bad mobile reception?

Especially in the morning, when it seems like everyone on the commute train has their eyes glued to their smartphone.

They are reading the paper, watching Netflix, listening to podcasts, sharing photos...you name it.

It's pretty incredible when you think that a few years ago this wasn't possible.

Mobile phones aren't just for placing calls or sending texts anymore. We pretty much use them for everything.

Australians are ingesting more and more data.

According to a recent survey by Deloitte, 89% of Australians own a smartphone. Yet only 22% of users think that mobile networks are 'good enough' during their commute.

And, to cope with the massive amounts of data we consume, we will need better connections.

Enter 5G.

What is 5G technology?

So what is this technology? It is the next generation of wireless connectivity that will allow for faster download speeds. You will probably be hearing a lot about 5G this year.

3G allowed you to watch video. More recently, 4G gave us quicker connections.

5G will mean even faster download speeds. But, it is not just that. 5G will create a whole new ball game.

You see, most of the wireless versions we've seen before were mostly to enable 'human to human' connections. 5G will allow for 'smart devices' to connect and communicate with each other through artificial intelligence...without the need for humans.

It will allow for self-driving cars, virtual intelligence and even remote robotics to happen. With 5G the latency (or time delay) drops, which allows for faster response times.

Why is it so much faster?

While with 4G you have huge antennas covering vast amounts of areas, 5G will be different. 5G will use small cellphone towers instead. These cellphone towers will be placed closer together serving smaller areas. The fact that you are closer will allow for faster speeds.

But, there is something else that makes 5G a big deal.

5G could also be set to revolutionise the military.

As the South China Morning Post recently reported:

  • 'The 5G network and the internet of things enlarge and deepen the cognition of situations in the battlefield by several orders of magnitude and produce gigantic amounts of data, requiring AI to analyse and even issue commands," said Dr Clark Shu, an AI and telecommunication researcher at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. [...]'

But the more we rely on technology and the more connected we are, the more we are vulnerable to hacking. As the article continued:

  • '"The biggest disadvantage of a 5G network in the battlefield is the vulnerability to electromagnetic interference - and hacking and intrusion," said Shu.

    '"The significant increase in sensors and data nodes means an increase of exposure, and an increased risk of being attacked."'

As we have written before, there is a Cold War-esque conflict going on. And the proxy wars are getting fought everywhere: space, Venezuela...and we expect that 5G will be another front.

In fact, in a recent report by the US Electromagnetic Defense Taskforce, they noted 5G development could be crucial (emphasis is mine):

  • '5G applications are forecast to exceed $400 billion by 2022, with the construction and maintenance of a prospective US network resulting in 3 million jobs and a $500 billion increase in GDP. Rapid creation of a global 5G network is also a cornerstone in China's industrial plan to compete with Western interests by creating a "Digital Silk Road." This integrated network of digital infrastructure or "spatial information corridor" will also promote the adoption of the Bei Dou navigation system (a Chinese alternative to GPS), according to the US Department of Commerce's Office of Commercial Economic Analysis. Currently, China's 5G plan is underwritten by half a trillion dollars in investment with a first-to-market goal to deploy 5G commercially by 2020. In total, China will put more than $10 trillion dollars to the One Belt One Road strategy, of which the Digital Silk Road is one of three components

    'By 2035, 5G is expected to enable $12.3 trillion in global economic output. The states or non-states that control the 5G network will dictate or control all digital transactions including the ability to share and receive information. China's control over the majority of hardware manufacturing needed to create 5G components and antennas (41 percent of the market and rising) is part of Beijing's plan to deploy a network favorable to Chinese economic and security interests. Because control of 5G is roughly equivalent to control of the Internet, open 5G is critical to freedom and free-market economics. Meanwhile, access to the 5G-millimeter wave bandwidth will be critical to operations in all war-fighting domains, in particular, space C2.'

As the US-China trade deadline is fast approaching, keep in mind that tensions aren't only about trade. The two powers are facing off over economic, technology and military domination.

That's why we think that any agreement may only be a temporary 'patch'.

Best,

Selva Freigedo,
Editor, Markets & Money

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Please note: This article was first published in Markets & Money on 12th February 2019.

Selva Freigedo is an analyst with a background in financial economics. Born and raised in Argentina, she has also lived in Brazil, the US and Spain. She has seen economic troubles firsthand, from economic booms to collapses and the ravaging effects of hyperinflation, high unemployment, deposit freezes and debt default. She is lead Editor at the daily e-letter Markets & Money.

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