5G is at the center of America’s beef with Huawei — here’s why it’s such a big deal

  • 5G is a faster wireless network, but it’s much more than just that — it will change the way devices connect and talk to one another.
  • Wireless carriers and major tech companies are going all out to plan for it.
  • It’s also a factor in the U.S. trade war with China, and a new ban prevents U.S. companies from working with Huawei, even outside of the U.S. where its tech is already banned.

It’s at the center of America’s fight with China’s Huawei, which provides cellular equipment for wireless carriers around the globe.

5G is also a big topic for Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. Those carriers are working to build out the faster networks now, and Sprint and T-Mobile have even used 5G to discuss the competitive landscape in an effort to get merger approval from the Justice Department.

Why the US thinks Huawei is a massive national security threat
Apple recently ended a bitter, yearslong legal battle with Qualcomm mainly because the chipmaker manufactures some core 5G technology that Apple needs to make future iPhones competitive.

But what the heck is 5G?

Put simply, 5G is a next-generation wireless network that will give you much faster internet connections. But, because of the way it works, it’s about to change the way lots of other things connect to the internet, too, like cars and TVs, and even things like connected lights on city streets.

Here’s what you need to know:

Faster connections, and more of them
Premium: smart connected city night
Busakorn Pongparnit | Moment | Getty Images
5G promises much faster network speeds, which means heavy-duty content like video should travel much more quickly to connected devices.

Verizon’s 5G network, which is live in Minneapolis and Chicago, is already providing speeds in excess of 1Gbps, or about 10 times the speeds you might get on a good day with 4G LTE, the current standard offered by wireless carriers in most places. That means you should be able to download an hourlong high-definition video in seconds instead of minutes.

The lower latency of 5G also means that it takes less time for one gadget to talk to another. This is important in places like smart cities that are connecting to smart cars, since information needs to be delivered instantly. One day, 5G might be able to tell your car that someone is about to run a red light and that your car needs to slam on the brakes. In that sort of situation, you can’t have much delay in the network.

The greater bandwidth of 5G means that more devices can use the network at the same time. This means it should alleviate problems at places like sports stadiums or concerts where thousands of people may be trying to place a phone call or upload a picture at the same time. In these instances, a network can get jammed up and stops working for everyone. 5G should prevent that from happening…

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