All over our history, there have been many conflicts between the most powerful countries in the world. These conflicts have been about power over resources or different religions, cultures, and so on. However, the latest conflict is a commercial war between the United States and China. The star of this conflict is the 5G technology.
This started in 2018 when President Trump decided to increase tariffs to imported products from 10 to 25 percent. This meant billions of dollars every year for a country like China. On the other part, the Asian country did the same imposing tariffs for the products coming from the United States.
The government put in place these tariffs to encourage American companies to use domestic labor and suppliers. In spite of this, some companies recovered their money. By increased the selling price of their products and others laid off some of their employees.
This situation very easy can cause an unbalance in the economy of these two countries. Any Chinese product can grow its price by 30 or 50 percent, the same way for American products in the east. Just in the United States, many of the biggest companies have their manufactory in China. A lot of products could be under this law, from clothes to electronics. The increase in costs for these goods could be billions of dollars for American families.
An article by the South China Morning Post revealed that there was a decrease in China’s exports to the US by 8.1 percent to 199.4 billion US dollars. While China’s imports from the US dropped by 29.9 percent to 58.9 billion US dollars. This occurred in the first half of 2019.
This could bring grave consequences for the world’s economy. China and the United States of America are two of the biggest producers in the world and two of the biggest consumers. How they deal with their commercial relationships can set the pattern for the other capitalist countries.
Now, the Chinese-US conflict is tenser than ever. Chinese companies have most of the world’s 5G patents. At this moment, every country around the world is watching for the outcome of this commercial war. You can read daily news about it. China is focused on developing 5G technology. Reaching the goal to come out on top as a world leader and the United States is just behind them.
Furthermore, one of the situations that is generating more tension is the race in technology development. To understand this race, first, you have to understand the 5G technology.
What is 5G technology?
This is a new generation of cellular wireless technology. The goal is to reach a high-velocity internet connection with low potency. Supposedly, it will allow real-life responses for devices and data download up to a hundred times faster than 4G LTE networks. But, this technology has an evolutional trait. This will be a reduction in network latency.
You must be wondering what is network latency? Every time you do a click on the internet, you send a request to the server and the server sends a response. This data transfer allows you to see the information you desire. Latency is the time this process takes. The lower latency could come down to 1 millisecond, so fast that our eyes wouldn’t even notice. With 4G, this latency is about 50 milliseconds. And this delay increases a considerable amount when many users are connected. The users able to connect with 5G could reach up to 1 million devices per square kilometer, without compromising velocity connection.
If you think about it, how many appliances, devices and different machines you have in your house? How many connected devices with your phone or any other intelligent home app? This is the internet of things (IoT). All these devices will be changed with the 5G technology.
Imagine live-like responses for virtual games. The possibility to set up your bath tub because you want to have a relaxing night when you get home from work. Programming your car to pick you up from work and not worrying about taking a couple of minutes. The connection will be so fast that it will take less than a blink. All this is the beginning.
Why the USA and China are racing to be the first country with 5G technology?
Many believe that the first country with countrywide 5G technology will be the most powerful country for the next 50 years. Said country won’t have a limit to the technology development that could be achieved. The IoT industry will see the revenues for years to come. The global expenses on 5G mobile networks are forecast to reach 1.3 trillion US dollars, between 2019 and 2025. The GSMA Intelligence said.
The US President Donald Trump said: “The race to 5G is a race America must win”. The United States of America has been the leading technology developer in the last couple of decades. Now it’s falling behind in regards to 5G. The total expenses on 5G in China will be “more than twice the size” of North America’s next-generation network investments. Reaching an amount of 40 billion us dollars between 2019 and 2023, according to a report by Dell’Oro Group.
Around the world, we’ve always known China for making toys and cheap plastic trinkets. Now, they saw an opportunity to lead the technological market. The Chinese are racing to be the first country with the next generation wireless connection. This will be the key for smart cities and autonomous cars. One of the differences between China and the USA in regards to this colossal step is their approach. In China the government is leading this development. In the United States, Donald Trump said that development is driven and led by the private sector.
Huawei was an unknown brand a few years back. Now, is one of the most important providers on network gear. They have annual revenue of more than 100 billion dollars. And it is all you hear about on the news every day. This started in May this year. When there was a tense situation between the mobile phone company Huawei and the USA. The American government put a block on Huawei, citing national security concerns.
This block causes a prohibition of any type of software actualization from Google and its basic Android apps. This was a great hit to the company, causing the malfunction of all their devices. Huawei is one of the biggest companies in China and one that has a lot of ties with the Chinese government. Furthermore, this has a big effect on China’s economy in general.
After this, the restrictions affected Huawei’s international commercial relationships. Now one of China’s technological leaders is, somewhat temporary, out of the race. All this could cause a step back for the development of the 5G technology in the country.
Meanwhile, in the US, there’s no major company leading the race. The mobile giants, like AT&T or Verizon, have installed some 5G points on important cities in the country. But they are not putting much effort to roll out the next generation network connection to reach even the rural areas.
Benefits of 5G
The ability to download 4K movies in seconds is the tip of the iceberg. These developments below are some of the most attractive. All this can be achieved with the 5G technology and the reason why the US and China are so decided to come out on top:
- A smart city where everything is automatized. This includes traffic lights adjusting following increase of volume and lights turning to green for an ambulance. China already has a developing system that can do these things. A city called Hangzhou with an area of 420 square kilometers (162 square miles).
- More sophisticated drones. Having a faster connection, the drone won’t have to carry powerful computers to do tasks like object recognition or monitor crop growth.
- Self-driving cars. Not having to worry about a delay response in case of accidents. The 5G technology will make learning to drive a thing of the past.
- Augmented reality and virtual games will be the next great thing for gamers. Something that we only saw in sci-fi movies will be accessible to all.
- Military development is unlimited. From soldiers being able to communicate in real-time, to attack operations from miles away. These are a few of the applications.
- Remote healthcare to reach the most rural places. Robots operating patients controlled by doctors sitting miles away can be now a reality. In March this year, China performed its first 5G-based remote surgery on a human brain. The doctors managed to implant the DBS at the optimal target site. The surgery lasted for about three hours according to the China Daily.
Smart devices will be connected in such a way, that they will be able to gather data between them to improve their responses. The IoT will reach levels of development never seen before. According to the International Data Corporation, the global spending on IoT is forecast to exceed 1 trillion us dollars in 2022.
Is everything good about 5G technology?
Since the start of the 5G, there has been an increased interest in the possible consequences of this technology for the human race. The wireless network we have now is 4G, and it works at a frequency of 1500 MHz. 5G network will work with a frequency from 1 to 6 GHz. This translates to a considerable increase in electromagnetic radiation in the world.
If the existing wireless connection can go through brick, wood, and concrete it certainly can go through our bodies. So what could be the consequences to receive this massive amount of radiation from all around us? According to both government and industry, we have nothing to worry about.
However, in the past year, there have been several studies claiming the opposite. Having a high frequency, 5G has a short wave-length. Short wave-length makes it harder for the waves to go through any object. To make efficient connections, the cities will need more antennas distributed around the area. This will allow a concentrated beam of radio waves. One device will need an array of 16 antennas to get this connection.
In the United States, Elon Musk’s company just launched the Space X project. With a fleet of seven thousand satellites, this program plans to improve the connectivity on Earth. According to an article by Collective Evolution, the total number of projected new satellites in the next few years will be around 20,000.
You can have an idea of the quantity of electromagnetic radiation we will be receiving by these meager facts. The Guardian published an article citing research that showed conclusive results. It said that 67 percent of independently-funded studies found a negative biological effect of exposure to radiofrequency radiation. But only 28 percent of industry-funded studies found some negative effects.
Dr. Martin Pall, Washington State Professor, gave a talk in the “Health in Buildings Roundtable”. He talks about the consequences of the radiation from 2G, 3G and 4G network wireless connection. The most impacting ones are lower fertility, insomnia, fatigue, depression, anxiety, major changes in brain structure in animals, cellular DNA damage, oxidative stress, hormonal disruption, cancer, and much more.
In the same way, all those effects are even greater on babies and young children because their skull is less thick than the skull of a grown adult. Some studies also talk about the impact on plants and animals. Sometimes they’re even more affected because their senses are more developed.
Even with countless studies, the countries are decided to not be left behind. Are we crazy to trust our government to keep our healthcare and lives on their hands? Sometimes, all that seems to matter is the monetary gain they can have. Big companies through our history have been proved wrong on their achievements. And many things that were believed to be absolute truths have been discovered to be lies. We will have to wait and see where this new revolution will lead us in the not-so-far future.
Moreover, while the scientists keep on doing independent and industry-funded research the technology development continues. By the time we may have the truth; the 5G will be already long implemented. The race is on, and there is no stopping it.
Mechanical Engineer Student. Experienced freelancer in various niches since 2016. She considered herself a tech geek and can write both in English and Spanish. Apart from writing she dedicates her time to powerpoint design, app development and 3D modelling.