Nationalization: The answer on 5G — or just evidence of US flailing in the face of the China challenge?
Former FBI General Counsel James Baker took a different tack in dissenting from the Gingrich proposal: He challenged the viability and security of an open-access, small company system. In effect, he defended the existing “oligopoly” structure, arguing that the extreme complexity of future 5G systems presents huge security challenges and that only large corporate organizations with deep experience in administering such intricate systems can provide the vital security needed to combat both economic and espionage attacks: “It is simply unrealistic to think that newcomers will be able to jump in and deliver secure and reliable 5G in the time horizon [two to three years] that Gingrich suggests.” Thus, the question of industrial structure has been added to the 5G deployment conundrum — and the Gingrich/Baker debate needs amplification.
While he disagrees with the open-access proposal, Baker is no less apprehensive about China’s drive for technological dominance — and the central role that 5G will play in that competition. All this brings us back to the immediate debate over what to do about Huawei’s strengthening hold on the market for backbone equipment for 5G.