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Eurasia Group publishes report on the geopolitics of 5G mobile networks


27 November 2018

NEW YORK, 16 November — Eurasia Group's Geo-technology team has published a report on the geopolitical implications of the race to deploy next-generation 5G mobile networks.
 
The report focuses on how political forces, including what Eurasia Group has dubbed the US-China tech cold war, will shape the creation of 5G standards and deployment in key markets. It also addresses how 5G's development will impact the race for 21st-century dominance between the world's leading technology superpowers.
 
Key findings:
  • China will likely gain some first-mover advantage in 5G as it moves toward commercial-scale deployment of its domestic 5G network in 2020.
  • Efforts by the US and like-minded allies to exclude Chinese networking equipment suppliers from Western and allied 5G networks will continue, with the US-China trade and technology confrontation showing little sign of easing.
  • The push for a China-free 5G alternative is likely to delay 5G deployment in some countries, as backup suppliers are forced to invest in new manufacturing capacity and human capital required to introduce next-generation networks cost-effectively and at scale.
  • A divided 5G network will increase the risk that the global technology ecosystem gives way to two separate, politically divided and potentially noninteroperable technology spheres of influence—one led by the US and supported by technology developed in Silicon Valley; another led by China and supported by its cadre of highly capable digital platform companies.
  • Alongside the political fight over the 5G network itself, the US and China are competing to develop innovative technology applications that will run on top of deployed 5G networks, such as autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, factory automation, and telemedicine.
  • Third countries wishing to gain access to these parallel systems will face competing pressures and difficult choices about whose 5G network technologies and related application ecosystems to adopt. Developing countries that are more sensitive to cost will find Chinese technology and related enticements—for example, infrastructure and project financing available through the Belt and Road Initiative—hard to pass up.
 
“The political struggle around 5G deployment will define the debate around how, when, and where the next generation of the Internet will evolve,” says Paul Triolo, head of Eurasia Group's Geo-technology practice and co-author of the report. “China has the companies, the technology, the focus, and the market scale to lead the world in the development of applications for 5G.”
 
The full report is available for download here.
 
Founded in 2016, Eurasia Group's Geo-technology practice helps the firm's clients navigate the complicated intersection of technology and geopolitics globally – from the political risks associated with emerging technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence, to global regulatory and technology policy developments.
 
For additional information or to request an interview with the report authors, please contact Erina Aoyama at [email protected].
 
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Eurasia Group is the world's leading global political risk research and consulting firm. By providing information and insight on how political developments move markets, we help clients anticipate and respond to instability and opportunities everywhere they invest or do business. Our expertise includes developed and developing countries in every region of the world, specific economic sectors, and the business and investment playing fields of the future. With our best-in-class advisory and consulting offerings, the next-generation applied geopolitics platform egX, and GZERO Media, the Eurasia Group umbrella provides the marketplace with a complete political risk solution. Headquartered in New York, we have offices in Washington DC, London, San Francisco, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Singapore, and Tokyo, as well as on-the-ground experts and resources in more than a hundred countries. "Politics first” grounds our work: Politics is the lens through which we view the world, and we are committed to analysis that is free of political bias and the influence of private interests.
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