In recent days, many countries, including the US, the Republic of Korea (RoK), China, and Qatar have officially launched the fifth generation telecoms network (5G).
The 5G technology provides countries with the opportunity to become pioneers in the fourth industrial revolution therefore the “5G race” is heating up.
The RoK has just declared that it was the first country in the world to launch commercial 5G services, but that was disputed by US carriers who say they rolled out 5G in limited areas as early as last year.
US telco AT&T Inc said it was the first to launch a “commercial and standards-based” 5G network in December 2018.
Meanwhile, Ooredoo - an operator from Qatar, said it was the first company in the world to deploy commercial 5G with the first trials of 5G on Qatar National Day in 2016, the completion of 10 5G-ready base stations in May 2017, and the launch of the 5G Business services trial in partnership with Qatar Airways in November 2017.
The launch of the 5G mobile telecoms network strongly attracted the attention of the media in April, because the technology is becoming an important component to help countries develop new economic sectors and competitiveness.
The technology can offer 20-times faster data speeds than 4G long-term evolution networks and better support for artificial intelligence and virtual reality with low latency. Sometimes it can offer 100-times faster speeds.
The technology is also expected to spur breakthroughs in fields such as smart cities and autonomous cars.
On the economic front, 5G could trigger significant competitive advantages in the short and medium term.
Globally, it will generate US$12.3 trillion in economic outputs and support 22 million jobs by 2035. Currently, the US, the European Union (EU), the RoK, China and Japan are the most “heavyweight rivals” in the 5G race.
Shortly after the first commercial 5G network launch, the RoK Government announced the 5G+ strategy for innovation, with the goal of making the country a pioneer in the fourth industrial revolution.
In the US, the development of 5G technology has also become a top concern for the owner of the White House.
In a recent post on Twitter, President Donald Trump wrote: “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind...”
Meanwhile, the Chinese media said that Beijing has begun research into 6G. Accordingly, technical universities and institutes in China have cooperated to gather talents and resources to develop 6G technology immediately in 2019. Since 2015, it has outspent the US by US$24 billion in 5G infrastructure.
The launch of the 5th generation mobile telecoms network as well as the “5G race” shows that countries are deeply aware of the role of technology in the context that the world has officially entered a new period of the fourth industrial revolution. In the race, no country is allowed to “oversleep” on the victory if they don’t want to be left behind by opponents.