About, the US Defense Innovation Board, a group of business leaders and
academics that advises the Defense Department, etc
Over the weekend in Japan, Mr. Trump appeared to choose trade over national
security, suspending the ban on United States companies’ supplying
equipment to Huawei as he hopes to reach a trade deal with President Xi
Jinping of China. Without providing any details, he declared that American
companies could sell to Huawei without creating a “great, national
He said this even as own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, spent the past
several months traveling the world warning our allies that Huawei is a
profoundly dangerous security threat and instructing them to freeze out the
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, used Twitter to call Mr.
Trump’s reversal “a catastrophic mistake” that “will destroy the
credibility of his administration’s warnings about the threat posed by the
company, no one will ever again take them seriously.” (Mr. Trump followed
the same playbook with ZTE earlier this year, banning it and then reversing
the ban to placate the Chinese.)
While Mr. Trump may view Huawei as both “dangerous” and a pawn in the trade
war, the truth is it may be something else entirely.
Huawei is the most significant long-term competitive threat to the United
States’ dominance of the future of wireless technology. And the United
States is woefully — even disgracefully — behind.
No matter what the United States does to hobble Huawei — and Mr. Trump’s
latest stance will only hasten its rise — it will not alter a fundamental
problem that clouds the conversation: The United States needs a meaningful
strategy to lead the world in next-generation wireless technology — a kind
of Manhattan Project for the future of connectivity.
Don’t take my word for it.
In April, amid the frenzy over the report from Robert S. Mueller III, the
special counsel investigating Russian election interference, another
alarming government report was issued — and largely overlooked.
It was written by the Defense Innovation Board, a group of business leaders
and academics that advises the Defense Department. And it was a scathing
indictment of the country’s 5G efforts.
“The leader of 5G stands to gain hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue
over the next decade, with widespread job creation across the wireless
technology sector,” wrote the board, a who’s-who of the tech world that
includes the former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, the LinkedIn founder
Reid Hoffman and Walter Isaacson, the author and a former chief executive
of the Aspen Institute.
“The country that owns 5G will own many of these innovations and set the
standards for the rest of the world,” the board wrote.
It added in no uncertain terms: “That country is currently not likely to be
the United States.”
It is no wonder. No American company makes the devices that transmit
high-speed wireless signals. Huawei is the clear leader in the field; the
Swedish company Ericsson is a distant second; and the Finnish company Nokia
It is almost surprising that the Defense Department allowed the report to
be published at all, given the board’s remarkably blunt assessment of the
nation’s lack of innovation and what it said was one of the biggest
impediments to rolling out 5G in the United States: the Pentagon itself.
The board said the broadband spectrum needed to create a successful network
was reserved not for commercial purposes but for the military.
To work best, 5G needs what’s called low-band spectrum, because it allows
signals to travel farther than high-band spectrum. The farther the signal
can travel, the less infrastructure has to be deployed.
In China and even in Europe, governments have reserved low-band spectrum
for 5G, making it efficient and less costly to blanket their countries with
high-speed wireless connectivity. In the United States, the low-band
spectrum is reserved for the military.
The difference this makes is stark. Google conducted an experiment for the
board, placing 5G transmitters on 72,735 towers and rooftops. Using
high-band spectrum, the transmitters covered only 11.6 percent of the
United States population at a speed of 100 megabits per second and only 3.9
percent at 1 gigabit per second. If the same transmitters could use
low-band spectrum, 57.4 percent of the population would be covered at 100
megabits per second and 21.2 percent at 1 gigabit per second.
In other words, the spectrum that has been allotted in the United States
for commercial 5G communications makes 5G significantly slower and more
expensive to roll out than just about anywhere else.
That is a commercial disincentive and puts the United States at a distinct
The spectrum challenge creates a negative feedback loop for manufacturers,
which may help explain why no major American technology company has jumped
into the fray. But since President Trump issued an executive order that
banned the purchase of equipment from companies posing a national security
threat — which include Huawei — it threatens the ability of American
companies to expand their 5G networks, particularly in rural areas.
United States phone companies like AT&T and Verizon may end up seeking to
manufacture their own transmitters given the dearth of options.
Not winning the 5G contest comes with consequences. “If China leads the
field in 5G infrastructure and systems, then the future 5G ecosystem will
likely have Chinese components embedded throughout,” the Defense Innovation
Board wrote. “This would pose a serious threat to the security of D.O.D.
operations and networks going forward.”
One of the board’s recommendations is that the Defense Department share its
low-band spectrum to accelerate the commercial development of the
technology in the United States.
While sharing spectrum comes with its own security challenges, the board
raised the prospect of some unique, surprising benefits: “Integration of
government and civil use may provide a layer of security by allowing
military traffic to ‘hide in plain sight’ as traffic becomes more difficult
to see and isolate. Similarly, adversaries might be deterred from jamming
this spectrum because they might be operating on the same bands.”
None of this is meant to suggest that Huawei does not represent a national
security threat if the Chinese government were to use it to spy on foreign
adversaries in the future. (Though, it is worth saying, there is no
evidence presented publicly by any American agency that the company’s
hardware has been used that way — yet.)
Nor should it be read as an apology for Huawei’s record of stealing
intellectual property, which has been well chronicled.
Sharing spectrum should be only the start, however. Policymakers must grasp
that the “market” in the United States isn’t working the way it should,
especially when state actors like China are supporting companies like
If the United States is going to lead the world, Washington needs to think
hard about the incentives it provides companies — not only for research and
development, where we are still leading, but also for manufacturing the
technology that is in our national interest to control as well as what
mergers it allows.
One morning in late February, Mr. Trump typed out a message on Twitter: “I
want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out
currently more advanced technologies.”
That is a worthy goal, and an achievable one. But it requires more than the
Band-Aid solution that is a trade deal or a blacklist. It requires a new
Maybe we’ll have one in time for 6G.
On Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 6:05 AM Ali Hussein via kictanet <
> As an ICT Policy practitioner and avid follower of #GeoPolitics the
> #HuaweiDebacle has great interest to me. Recently our CS ICT, Joseph
> Mucheru tasked ATU to probe alleged security risks on Huawei and ZTE
> In America’s indictment of Huawei Technologies some interesting
> 1. The Global Cop routine is sort of wearing thin and portraying it not as
> a force for good but as a bully.
> 2. Are Chinese companies so dependent on America that a ban by America can
> kill them? The case of the almost collapse of ZTE Corporation is
> instructive.. Only a surprise last minute reprieve from #TheDonald saved it
> from total collapse.
> 3. Could Huawei Technologies survive a ban by America? Intel Corporation,
> Seagate Technology and Qualcomm are major suppliers to Huawei Technologies.
> How will this affect their ability to deliver cutting edge technology to
> their customers?
> This last point brings me to wonder how much of the Chinese Technology
> renaissance is dependent on America?
> Read on and follow the conversation on LinkedIn.
> *Ali Hussein*
> *AHK & Associates*
> +254 0713 601113
> Twitter: @AliHKassim
> Skype: abu-jomo
> LinkedIn: ke.linkedin.com/in/alihkassim
> “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a
> habit.” ~ Aristotle
> Sent from my iPad
> kictanet mailing list
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/kictanet
> Facebook: www.facebook.com/KICTANet/
> Unsubscribe or change your options at
> The Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) is a multi-stakeholder platform
> for people and institutions interested and involved in ICT policy and
> regulation. The network aims to act as a catalyst for reform in the ICT
> sector in support of the national aim of ICT enabled growth and development.
> KICTANetiquette : Adhere to the same standards of acceptable behaviors
> online that you follow in real life: respect people’s times and bandwidth,
> share knowledge, don’t flame or abuse or personalize, respect privacy, do
> not spam, do not market your wares or qualifications.