What is a 5G network and why the controversy?
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The mobile technology
● Electromagnetic radio waves travel around corners and can reach into buildings,
have much lower frequencies than light, and are used for mobile communication.
● Telecom Service Providers (TSP) have been using 4G network technology since
2010. 4G has difficulties when handling multiple devices in the same location.
● 5G is the latest generation of cellular networks. Will improve the network
connectivity. Runs on the same radio frequencies that are currently used for your
smartphone, on Wi-Fi networks, and in satellite communications.
Difference between 4G and 5G
● In the past, networks separated themselves with coverage and/or speed, but it
was still a best-effort network, with no guarantees of specific performance levels
or service. The 5G mobile network specifications have the features to deliver
● 4G enabled Instagram, YouTube, Uber, and other content to run on our
smartphones. 5G will prop up smart factories, cities, and offices.
● While 4G was for phones that provided a one-size-fits-all kind of connectivity, 5G
networks are designed for much more flexible use. For a smartwatch that runs on
a small battery, 5G provides a connection that consumes very little energy. For
an industrial robot, it provides an extremely stable and fast connection.
● High amounts of data can be transmitted more efficiently than 4G. One could
download a two-hour HD, online class, onto your phone in seconds (even from a
● 5G systems rely on multiple "small cells" mounted close to subscribers, often on
utility poles running along public streets. These small cells will incorporate
"smart" antennas that transmit multiple beams that can be independently steered
to individual subscribers. This considerably lowers power consumption than
"macro" cells currently used, which are typically located on top of buildings in
● Later additions will include “pico cells” that are mounted inside buildings,
operating at even lower power levels.
● 5G can provide data rates of several hundred Mbps and millisecond (ms)level
latency (the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its
transfer). It also has the option of keeping local traffic and data on-premises (data
sovereignty), if required. This makes it more reliable and secure
● Larger enterprises can take advantage of on-site deployments for specific uses
like smart manufacturing, smart ports, and Smart mines
● Wireless connection technologies—from near-real-time (100 ms latency) to hard
real-time (10 ms latency), and finally to isochronous real-time computing (1 ms
latency)—are set to give rise to connected factories.
● A new 5G technology is called network slicing. Slices of the network can be
tailored for a specific purpose and act as its own autonomous network.
● Each slice can be optimized for a specific service without draining resources on
things it doesn’t want. It can even function as many separate networks – all at the
● To create a private network, Network Slices creates a virtual private network that
only allows authorized access to an enterprise or the enterprise’s services.
● Data traffic grows at around 60% per year as people stream more video and use
more connected services. The number of devices that connect to the network
increases by about 25% each year.
● 5G intelligently transmits data to each device, with high precision enabling it to
handle as much as 1 million devices per square kilometer.
● China is expected to install 650,000 5G base stations nationwide by the end of
this year — more than 10 times as many as the U.S.
● Huawei is a Chinese multinational technology company headquartered in
Shenzhen, Guangdong. It provides next-generation communication networks
including 5G all over China. It now controls 30% of 5G tech up 10% from six
● The company was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former Deputy
Regimental Chief in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He is also a member of
China’s Communist Party and has been in the Chinese Army for nine years
● Huawei designs, develops, and sells telecommunications equipment and
provides telecommunications operators with equipment to build and operate
networks, and produces smartphones and 5G equipment (antennas and relay
● It faces allegations of espionage, fraud, and conspiracy to subvert sanctions
against Iran, intellectual property theft, involvement in North Korea, and collusion
between the Chinese Communist Party apparatus
● Huawei is accused of assisting in the surveillance and mass detention of ethnic
minorities called Uighurs in the Xinjiang re-education camps. Huawei tested
facial recognition artificial intelligence (AI) capable of recognizing ethnicity-
specific features to alert government authorities to members of the ethnic group.
● Huawei spends a third more on 5G research and development than its European
competitors, Ericsson and Nokia, combined. An investigation by The Wall Street
Journal found that Huawei had received $75bn worth of Chinese state aid in
● In February 2020, the US Department of Justice charged four members of the
Chinese military of hacking into a credit agency in 2017 and stealing the data of
14.5 crore Americans.
● Under these circumstances, the US says China could use Huawei for spying
using its 5G equipment and has banned it since 2019. China is forcing covid-hit
countries to kneel before Huawei by offering them masks.
The World vs China
● China has built a surveillance state that tracks, ranks, and controls its entire vast
population using its internet. The world fears that the Chinese government could
use data flowing through the network they build to expand its propaganda and
censorship in foreign countries.
● China passed the National Intelligence Law in 2017, which says organizations
shall "support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work". The
fear is that if there was a diplomatic or military crisis, Huawei will obey the
Chinese government and disrupt public transportation, industry, or energy grids
in parts of the world where they have helped set up 5G tech.
● Australia, Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand have all excluded Chinese
providers from their 5G networks on security grounds and banned Chinese
participation in their 5G upgrades. Canada has not yet announced its decision.
● The UK, pressing ahead with using Huawei equipment means they could risk
future security cooperation from the US. But deciding to ban Huawei from 5G in
the UK, could risk Chinese retaliation such as a possible cyber attack.
● Can the West trust Huawei or will using its equipment leave communication
networks, and mobile phones, exposed?
● The concern is that state-sponsored hackers could use these devices (from self-
driving cars to fridges, baby monitors, and fire alarms become connected to the
internet), which often have weaker security features, as back doors into
strategically vital networks.
Why leave out Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE from the 5G race in India.
● India’s govt virtually denied Chinese approval to build the network of the world’s
second-biggest phone market. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said the June
2020 Galwan Valley has changed the Modi government’s approach to its giant
● India didn’t officially ban Chinese vendors from 5G trials but is said to have
unofficially told state-run telcos to stop sourcing gear from them. The government
is also believed to have asked private TSPs to gradually reduce supplies from
Also Read: Dr. D Nageshwar Reddy Why in news?
● In May 2021, excluding all Chinese companies, India’s Department of
Telecommunications (DOT) approved Indian TSPs to begin 5G network trials
using equipment from Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia, South Korean
Samsung, US-based Mavenir along with the Indian-government owned C-DOT,
and India’s biggest company Reliance.
● TSPs are encouraged to use 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G
technology. The 5Gi technology has been developed by the Indian Institute of
Technology, Madras (IIT-M), Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology
(CEWiT), and IIT Hyderabad. It facilitates a much larger reach of the 5G towers
and radio networks.