The fifth generation of mobile network technologies, known as “5G,” promises greater speed, security, and capacity. 5G will underpin the internet economy and provide the backbone for the next generation of digital technologies. So, it is unsurprising that there is intense competition among companies and countries for 5G leadership. 5G will determine the direction the internet will take and where nations will face new risks and vulnerabilities. Who makes 5G technologies will affect security and innovation in an increasingly competitive technological environment. Decisions made today about 5G will affect national security and economic performance for decades to come. This is a competition among companies and groups of companies but also a competition between market-based and state-directed decisionmaking. The United States has relied on the former, China on the latter, and Europe falls somewhere in between. American technology remains essential for 5G mobile telecommunications. American companies have been strong performers in developing 5G technologies, but the United States and its allies face a fundamental challenge from China. The focus of competition is over 5G’s intellectual property, standards, and patents. Huawei, for example, has research programs to develop alternatives to American suppliers, and U.S. trade restrictions have accelerated China’s efforts to develop its own 5G industry. While American companies lead in making essential 5G technologies, there are no longer any U.S. manufacturers of core telecommunications network equipment.
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