The US Attorney General has been banging on about 5G, hot on the heels of demands the country wins at 6G too.
Never before has telecoms been so politicised. US President Trump is increasingly relying on his demonization of Huawei for political capital and now Attorney General Bill Barr has decided to position the ‘race to 5G’ as a matter of critical national security importance.
Speaking at a Global CTO Roundtable on 5G Integrated and Open Networks Barr said “The United States and our partners are in an urgent race against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop and build 5G infrastructure around the world. Our national security and the flourishing of our liberal democratic values here and around the world depend on our winning it.
“Future 5G networks will be a critical piece of global infrastructure, the central nervous system of the global economy. Unfortunately, the PRC is well on its way to seizing a decisive 5G advantage. If the PRC wins the 5G race, the geopolitical, economic, and national security consequences will be staggering. The PRC knows this, which explains why it is using every lever of power to expand its 5G market share around the globe. The community of free and democratic nations must do the same.
“To compete and win against the PRC juggernaut, the United States and its partners must work closely with trusted vendors to pursue practical and realistic strategies that can turn the tide now. Although the ‘Open RAN’ approach is not a solution to our immediate problem, the concept of Integrated and Open Networks (ION), which was the topic of yesterday’s roundtable, holds promise and should be explored. We can win the race, but we must act now.”
This seems like another strong buying signal for Ericsson, Nokia and US vendors like Cisco to get some easy public money in the name of mucking in to the collective effort, especially with O-RAN apparently being downgraded as a panacea. The two Nordic kit vendors will need to tread carefully before getting too cozy with the US state, however, or they can kiss what business they do have in China goodbye.
Meanwhile the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions has issued a call to action to promote US 6G leadership. “While innovation can be triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level requires an early commitment and development that addresses U.S. needs as well as a common vision and set of objectives,” said Susan Miller, President and CEO of ATIS, possibly in acknowledgement of the panic the US has got itself into over 5G and of recent developments in China.
Mobile standards are, of course, global, so talk of regional races is somewhat disingenuous. What Barr presumably means is that, since Chinese vendors are banned from US telecoms infrastructure, he’s worried US 5G is going to be rubbish compared to the Chinese equivalent. Any non-Chinese telecoms company with a few bright ideas would be well advised to stick close to the US government as the public money tap seems to be well and truly open.