News Feature | April 7, 2020

The Week in 5G: 4/7/2020 — Japan and U.S. Plan Rural 5G Rollouts; False Theories Blame 5G For COVID-19 Pandemic

By Ed Biller


In the United States, President Donald J. Trump signed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 in late March and, last week, the plan blueprint mandated by that act was released. The National Strategy to Secure 5G includes four stated “lines of effort”:

  • Facilitating the domestic roll-out of 5G
  • Assessing the security risks and core principles for infrastructure
  • Managing those economic and security risks
  • Promoting responsible global development and deployment of the 5G infrastructure

Also in the U.S., the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) has accused the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of giving service providers a “false choice” between two distribution options for up to $8 billion the agency has earmarked for a proposed fund supporting rural 5G deployments.

The first option would set an auction for 2021 while relying on current data to determine the areas most in need. The second option punts the auction to 2023 and would count on updated data.

 “The draft proposal sets up a false choice between, on the one hand, updating the FCC’s maps in line with the recently-enacted Broadband DATA Act but delaying funding for several years, and, on the other hand, moving forward using the flawed coverage data, simply for the sake of moving forward quickly, stated CCA President & CEO Steven K. Berry in response to the FCC proposal. 

Japan, too, has turned an eye toward rural 5G development. SoftBank and KDDI have announced a joint venture (5G JAPAN) to promote deployment of 5G in rural areas across Japan.

“5G JAPAN will promote infrastructure sharing based on the mutual use of base station assets held by SoftBank and KDDI to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks in rural Japan. The joint venture will also conduct construction design and construction management work for 5G base stations,” stated the companies, per a report by RCR Wireless.

In Germany, industry has taken the initiative in creating its own private 5G networks, reports The Wall Street Journal. Thus far, 33 companies have bought licenses, a spokesman for the German Federal Network Agency told WSJ.

“BMW AG , Robert Bosch GmbH, Volkswagen AG , BASF SE and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are among the companies that have applied to set up local 5G networks in recent months after Germany’s network regulator began accepting applications for the radio spectrum last November,” the report states.  

In technology news, TCL Communication announced its TCL 10 Series of smartphones, which Digital Trends assesses as having “good specs, pleasing design, and a very competitive price.”

One of three devices released, the TCL 10 5G costs only 400 British pounds ($490 U.S.), but is powered by the “Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset and the X55 modem,” and includes “6 GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space,” Digital Trends reports.

In the U.S., the Department of Defense released its fourth and final request for 5G prototype proposals last week, this time seeking “industry input on a three-pronged 5G prototype project at Hill Air Force Base and Utah Test and Training Range, both in Utah,” according to a C4ISR report.  

Finally, according to The Guardian, at least “20 mobile phone masts across the UK are believed to have been torched or otherwise vandalized” since last week, say government and industry sources. Baseless claims that 5G is a cover-up for, or cause of, COVID-19, have fueled the vandalism.

 The Verge printed a letter from four major UK carriers asking people to stop destroying critical infrastructure, while CNN reports YouTube and other social media platforms have been forced to police content rife with conspiracy theories. The theories have been popularized by celebrities and other social media users who fail to check the veracity of what they share.