America's 5G Era
May 24, 2021
This report describes fifth-generation (5G) network security, the 5G supply chain, competition in 5G equipment and mobile device markets, where the United States has security advantages over China, and how to preserve those advantages in the 5G competition between the United States and China. The report provides recommendations for securing 5G networks and mobile devices of the United States, its allies, and foreign partners.
A Way Forward in the U.S. and China Security Competition
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Fifth-generation (5G) networks are being deployed in the United States and globally and, one day, will replace many older, third- and fourth-generation cellular networks. 5G will provide much higher data rates and lower message latency than older cellular networks. 5G could also provide or support a variety of new applications, such as holographic communications, autonomous vehicles, and internet-of-things communications. However, security concerns have been raised about 5G networks built using Chinese equipment and 5G phones made by some Chinese companies. The United States is reliant on foreign suppliers for 5G infrastructure and key microchips that go into every 5G phone.
This report describes 5G security issues, the 5G supply chain, and the competitive landscape in 5G equipment and mobile device markets. It describes where U.S. and Chinese companies have technology or market advantages in the emerging 5G security competition between the United States and China. The report provides recommendations for securing U.S. 5G networks and mobile devices and those used by U.S. allies and foreign partner nations.
The Rise of Chinese Firms in Global Telecommunication Markets
Elements of the 5G Security Competition
Competition in the 5G Supply Chain
Potential 5G Architecture Vulnerabilities
Options for a U.S. 5G Security Strategy
Findings and Recommendations
Funding for this research was made possible by the independent research and development provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. The research was conducted by the Acquisition and Development Program within the Homeland Security Research Division.
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