Live Webinar

The 5G Era: Transforming Business, Industries & Society


5G, the next-generation mobile network that promises to move data at greater speeds and connect huge volumes of devices, is expected to change the way we live and work. Why is 5G sparking so much attention? Why is this technology so important? Below are some highlights from our webinar on 5G technology.

The informal definition of 5G

Muriel Médard, Cecil H. Green Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT, highlighted the importance of distinguishing between the formal and informal definitions of 5G. There is much excitement about the informal definition, that is, being able to integrate everything from the cloud to various networks, with satellite systems playing an important role. 5G significantly reduces latency and enables access to all spectrum frequencies.

Security concerns and supplier diversity

China’s dominance of 5G telecommunication networks is considered a security threat for many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Huawei has become the dominant provider of 5G equipment, and many countries are seriously concerned that the company could enable the Chinese government to gain access to the networks. The speakers pointed out that Huawei has strong ties to the Chinese government.

Elsa Kania, an expert on Chinese defense technology at the Center for a New American Security, commented that China is at the forefront in terms of 5G applications taking shape and having economic significance. Chinese leaders have committed to accelerating the deployment of 5G since the pandemic. China’s national response to COVID-19 featured 5G-enabled robots for delivery and sanitation, as well as 5G-enabled remote diagnostics to support doctors.

Furthermore, Yuka Koshino, the Research Fellow on Japanese Security and Defence Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, explained that the lack of vendor diversity in the current market is a concern. There are only a handful of suppliers, such as Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and some Japanese companies, with the largest market share held by Chinese vendors who are considered high risk by many countries.

Concerns for Japan and the U.S.

Kazuo Noguchi, the Senior Manager from the Cyber Security Team with the Research & Development Division at Hitachi America, expressed his concern over Japan lagging behind China on 5G. For Japan, 5G became a catalyst and innovation platform for making significant advances in technology. Koshino further elaborated that 5G is relevant for Japan’s future economic growth, due to the nation facing aging population and population decline. Industrial applications, such as smart agriculture and remote medicine, will be of significance to Japan.

Similarly, Kania voiced her apprehension about the United States lagging behind from the perspective of competitive advantage. For the U.S., there is a sense of urgency and importance for economic and national security reasons. Noguchi mentioned that 5G will have a $12 trillion global impact, and the U.S. Department of Defense is spending $600 million for 5G testing for national security reasons.

Banning Huawei is not the answer

Kania argued that simply banning Huawei is hardly enough to create or promote security when other vendors and aspects remain insecure. She stressed that the conversation on 5G security has to be much more holistic in recognizing that there are multiple concerns. Koshino added that the fundamental problem lies in the United States' and other countries’ inability to offer alternative cost-effective solutions.

O-RAN architecture may be the solution to 5G

The world is currently witnessing a race to determine a reasonable alternative to Huawei. Koshino alluded to the open radio access network (O-RAN or Open-RAN), an alternative to the traditional cellular network architecture, that would enable lower costs and increase diversity in suppliers.

She brought up that it has become a global trend to diversify the network system. Japan has been at the forefront of pushing Open-RAN, providing tax incentives and loans to telecom operators that adopt these open technology requirements. In the United States, there has been a growing effort to invest in R&D in multi O-RAN solutions, while the United Kingdom is putting together diversification strategies.

Koshino also touched upon the Democratic 10, an alliance of 10 democracies, including the G7 countries, the European Union, South Korea, and Australia, that is creating an alternative pool of suppliers of 5G equipment.

U.S.-Japan cooperation

The panel explored the topic of U.S.-Japan cooperation, and whether more cooperation is necessary in response to China’s market dominance on 5G as well as the lack of potential cooperation with Chinese telecom companies.

Noguchi shared that each country has their own national interest in 5G. The United States is focused on security, whereas Japan’s primary motivation is driven by economic factors. Hence, the United States and Japan have complementary interests when it comes to 5G.

Kania stated that the United States is placing critical importance on collaboration with their allies on 5G. 5G has been highlighted as the industry of the future by the Trump administration, and President-elect Biden has underscored the importance of innovation and investment in infrastructure. Additionally, she said that collaboration between countries has already started to take shape through an initial 5G security conference, and there have been bilateral and multilateral conversations on developing principles on 5G security, best practices, and lessons learned. As we think of the global marathon of 5G, she believes that there will be opportunities to promote collaboration not only in data security, cybersecurity, and R&D, but also to provide feasible and affordable alternatives to countries that may turn to Huawei.

Koshino added that President-elect Biden will have a multilateral approach, continuing the ongoing bilateral dialogues between Japan and the United States. In the past years, there have been discussions under the U.S.-Japan policy cooperation dialogue on the Internet economy, which has recognized the need for cooperation for a trusted and secure digital infrastructure and the promotion of the open network ecosystem.

Many benefits, broader digital divide

Nicol Turner-Lee, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at The Brookings Institute, drew attention to the reality of 5G, disclosing that exacerbated digital gaps will exist, as not everyone will have access to 5G. In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to switch to remote learning even as millions of children lacked broadband access at home. She observed that it will be a similar situation with 5G.

Professor Médard talked about the ways in which developing countries are addressing the technology gap created by lack of access to more robust and advanced technologies. She explained that this is a hodgepodge combining old and new technology. Many developing countries are turning to Wi-Fi, as the infrastructure is fairly good and it is an affordable option. She referred to her work with nonprofit organizations in Denmark and New Zealand to provide better service for underserved Pacific Islands using existing satellites and coding. However, she emphasized that using satellites is a very expensive alternative.

Security concerns for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Noguchi said that the Olympics will be a great opportunity to showcase new, cutting-edge development as 5G will open the door to virtual reality for remote viewers. He reiterates his concerns on security, as vulnerabilities will exist through these connected digital systems.

Koshino explained that Japanese telecom operators have launched 5G in certain parts of Japan, however, consumer feedback about user experience has not been too positive so far. If the Tokyo Olympics happens, she commented that it will be an interesting case to see diverse kinds of applications.

Lee stated that the use of 5G technology can enable people to experience the games from all over the world. She pointed out that this is a very exciting application of 5G, allowing us to repurpose and retransform how we actually conduct day-to-day services, and this is how it can become critical infrastructure.

Data, the oil of the 21st century

Koshino concluded with a powerful message, “Data is like the oil of the 21st century.” It is a source of innovation and wealth, and access to networks will significantly increase the threat landscape. Deploying a secure 5G network with equipment from a trusted supply chain is paramount.

Watch the recorded discussion here.

Tuesday, November 17, 8—9:30 AM EST

5G, the next-generation mobile network that promises to move data at greater speeds and connect huge volumes of devices, is already being deployed in urban areas in Japan and some major U.S. cities. While giving consumers access to more information faster than ever before, 5G’s biggest impact will be on industries and businesses, transforming the way they operate and function. What are the key benefits and challenges of 5G technology, and how will it change the way we work and communicate throughout the world? In this program, speakers offer their views on the advantages and disadvantages of 5G, its potential impact on society, and the prospects of U.S.-Japan collaboration.


Elsa B. Kania, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program, Center for a New American Security
Yuka Koshino, Research Fellow for Japanese Security and Defence Policy, International Institute for Strategic Studies
Muriel Médard, Cecil H. Green Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kazuo Noguchi, Senior Manager, Cyber Security Team, Research & Development Division, Hitachi America, Ltd.

Nicol Turner-Lee, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies & Director, Center for Technology Innovation, Brookings Institution

日本語での情報はこちらでご覧いただけます。 (PDF)


Citi Deloitte



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