The fifth generation of cellular networks (5G) will provide societies with much faster connection speeds than existing 3G/4G networks. 5G is also expected to enable new forms of interconnectivity such as machine-tomachine communication, which can then power the Internet of Things (IoT), or the transformation of numerous industries, amongst others. Although the infrastructure of networks has traditionally been divided into the “core” and “RAN” (or edge) components, this distinction is increasingly blurred in 5G networks with the amalgamation of the core’s functions into the RAN. The amount of supporting infrastructure required for the rollout of 5G networks will also drastically increase. Additionally, given the economic and connectivity benefits that 5G can also offer, numerous countries are keen to become early adopters and implementors of 5G technology and networks. All of these concerns have led to a range of policy considerations that decision-makers must properly account for. Taking place against the backdrop of great power competition, such policy considerations extend beyond widely-known concerns of infrastructure integrity and network resilience to include questions revolving around global standards-setting influence and gaining strategic advantage.
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The Infrastructure of Global Connectivity: 5G Networks
About the author
Professor Chris Alden is Professor of International Relations at LSE and Director of LSE IDEAS. He is author/co-author of numerous books, including Foreign Policy Analysis—New Approaches 2nd edition (Routledge 2017) and co-editor of New Directions in Africa-China Studies (Routledge 2019) and China and Africa— building peace and security cooperation on the continent (Palgrave 2017).
Kenddrick Chan is an Associate at LSE IDEAS and Project Coordinator of the Digital IR project. His research focuses on the intersection of technology and international relations. He is also an editor at the Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism journal and a Young Leader with the Pacific Forum.