Risks caused by 5G networks for trade secrets

A breakthrough technology

5G technology is the next generation of telecom networks. What is expected according to Gemalto (world leader in digital security) is “speed improvement, unleash a massive IoT (Internet of Things) ecosystem where networks can serve communication needs for billions of connected devices, with the right trade-offs between speed, latency and cost.”

Technically, 5G will be based on millimeter waves which will be available for telecom operators so that they could integrate into their networks for a continuous connection of devices. Moreover, the radio part of the 5G network will rely on variety of small mmWaves and on 4G actual networks.

Highly competitive market

According to the GSA’s January 2019 survey (Global Mobile Suppliers Association), 5G connections must reach 1.4 billion by 2025, from which 50% will comes from USA, 30% from China and 15% from Europe. For now, 201 operators in 83 countries are experimenting, rolling out or commercializing 5G.

The market is also shared between mobile operators and constructors which are the main stakeholders (including States as regulators on their territory to oversee healthy competition).

Countries which are in good place on the market are South Korea (first country who has deployed commercial offer on its all territory), Qatar, USA and Finland among others (11 counties identified by GSA).

Protection from privacy breaches, secure trade secrets and intellectual property rights are key issues for upcoming years

5G highlights several issues such as political, industrial but mainly legal and economic (especially trade secrets). The question is whether 5G could permit patent export to competitor countries?

In this case, everyone shares the fears of Huawei. In China, there are close ties between public and private sectors. For instance, it’s commonly known that Chinese Ministry of State Security had hacked French aerospace company to obtain turbofan engine technology. At 5G time, scenario like this could be extremely perilous for political and commercial relationships.

Thus, Huawei could obtain patents, industrial and trade secrets going through its 5G networks and give them to the government or use it for itself. The company has notorious reputation because of its unethical behaviors as Robert Strayer warned in 2019 (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy).

Result is that USA banned the firm on USA’s ground and put a strain on European countries to do the same. The US intellectual property system is one of the strictest in the world. Also, European Union asked China for a thorough transparency if they want to enter in the European market.

Confidence and transparency are currently the main goals for states. Governments and cyberdefence analysts are closely working together to ensure customers and firms protection. They must trust stakeholders for using their networks so it’s also a commercial concern.

However, all European members are not in the same position. UK and more recently Germany have stated that the Chinese firm could deploy networks on their territories regardless of the occidental opinion. Huawei also ensured that they will not respond on governmental orders, despite of the american allegations.

MIT Review article : https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613417/the-uk-will-let-huawei-provide-non-core-equipment-in-its-5g-network/



  • Etudiant en Master 2 Droit de l'économie numérique, à l'écoute des évolutions économiques et passionné par les technologies innovantes.

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