The Fourth Wave of Technology Standardization: What 5G’s Heterogeneous Nature Means for the Future of Technology Governance

Cite as: 5 Geo. L. Tech. Rev. 149 (2021)

On May 5, 2020, a group of telecom system operators and network vendors including AT&T, Samsung, and Vodafone published a blog post announcing the formation of the Open Radio Access Network (RAN) Policy Coalition, a new coalition of companies that promotes “open and interoperable solutions” in RAN, the crucial back-end equipment that enables 5G.1 The message was simple: beware of the telecom supply chain.
Listening to the hype, one may believe that 5G—the fifth generation of wireless technologies—promises to enable cutting-edge technologies like self-driving cars, the Internet of Things (IoT), and augmented reality.2 5G will achieve this through its “massive capacity,” or seemingly unlimited network bandwidth, and through “ultra-low latency,” or imperceptible lag time.3 Thus, 5G will not be merely an evolution in wireless technology, but also a technological revolution—one that will transform health care, education, and finance—and will generate a huge economic windfall beyond the gains of 4G.4

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Julien Crockett

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, 2020.