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NATO and 5G: what strategic lessons?

  • 13 Jul. 2020
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  • Last updated: 14 Jul. 2020 08:44

NDC Policy Brief 13-20


Thanks to their higher speed, larger data volume, lower latency, and capacity to sustain very high density-connections (including machine-to-machine communications), 5G networks are set to unleash a major economic revolution, potentially adding trillions of dollars to the global economy (at least according to recent forecasts).1 From smart cities to Artificial Intelligence (AI); telemedicine to driverless cars; virtual reality to the Internet of Things (IoT); Industry 4.0 to all manner of applications that will comprise this new ecosystem, 5G ushers in enormous opportunities. 5G communications still require significant investments, both for research and development of key technologies, and for building the supporting infrastructure. Moreover, the next generation of telecommunications raises several important questions about the political economy of spectrum allocation and standard definition, their military applications, the role of Chinese companies and the attendant cybersecurity risks. These are all relevant topics for NATO from which the Alliance can draw some strategic lessons.



* (back) Senior Researcher, NATO Defense College.

1 (back) H. Galal and D. O’Halloran, “The impact of 5G: creating new value across industries and society”, White Paper, Geneva, World Economic Forum, January 2020.

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