If you're even remotely interested in technology, you've probably been hearing a lot about 5G lately. And that's not going to stop any time soon. But at least one person has already moved on. President Donald trump is already all about 6G, announcing on Twitter that he'd like to see it in the United States, along with 5G, "as soon as possible".
It’s still not entirely clear what triggered Trump’s somewhat out-of-the-blue cellular tech tweets. Is he impatient to use Samsung’s newly announced Galaxy S10 5G and wants Verizon to hurry up? Or he's actually mad at AT&T's cheeky fake 5G update? Is he like us, anticipating all the 5G hype around the corner with MWC starting in just a couple of days? If so, we look forward to shaking POTUS's hand and talking telecoms with him at the Barcelona fair.
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 on.........— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
Of course, as is so often the case when tweets, Trump, and technology intersect, it ultimately comes down to China, and companies like Huawei, the current bugbear of the US security state. China has cornered much of the global supply of key metals and minerals crucial for smartphones, electric cars and other new technologies, and is poised to dominate most of the world's online services. The US government, concerned that 'made in China' infrastructure will be used to spy on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party and undermine US world hegemony, has been pressuring allied nations to block Huawei 5G equipment from their countries. That's not working so well.
....something that is so obviously the future. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
Confusingly, Trump’s tweets seem to actually contradict US policy. POTUS wants the United States "to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies," which seems rather at odds with the administrations' blocking of Huawei 5G tech and encouraging allied nations to do the same.
It could be that by publicly coming out in favor of 'competition' rather than 'blocking', the head of state is expressing his own private dislike of current US policy and extending an olive branch to China. The Trump administration resumed trade talks with China on Thursday, the March 1 deadline to close the deal is looming. Trump has reportedly been preparing an executive order to ban Huawei and ZTE from the US, but if these tweets are anything to go by, he may be prepared to reconsider allowing Chinese competition after all. And it could be a smart move to present that as his own idea.
Ok wait, but...6G?
More confusingly, Trump demands not just that US companies develop 5G networks as soon as possible, but also 6G, a networking standard that doesn’t even exist yet, not even in theory. By the time we're anywhere close to 6G, it would be something like a decade after a hypothetical second Trump term. Nonetheless, China already did begin researching 6G concepts last year.
Since even 5G technology is still embryonic we can safely forget about anything 6G — whatever that is — for the time being. It's the battle for 5G that will be taking shape this year, something that after the new technology shown at MWC, and the conclusion of the trade talks between the world's two largest economies, we will have a lot to talk about in the coming months. 6G? Not so much.
What do you think about the US and China's role in global 5G networks? Should Huawei and other Chinese companies be free to compete in the US too?