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A brief history of 5g straggle in the United States

via:虎嗅网     time:2020/5/29 9:32:23     readed:125

February 2020, nine months after Trump put Huawei on the entity list. U.S. President Donald Trump was disappointed on the phone when he learned that British Prime Minister Johnson would allow Huawei to build five G of infrastructure in Britain. Even with Johnson's many explanations, Trump was still furious at the phone.

The above is not a novel plot, but the news recorded in the news. It also reflects how nervous the United States is in the face of China's 5g advantage, and how powerless the European government is.

America used to be the birthplace of the modern communications industry. Why did it become so passive five G?

If we explain it in one sentence, we can say:Today's US lacks the network infrastructure industry.

The reason for this is that it's a long story to start with the development history of the mobile industry in the United States.

On april 3,1973, motorola (Motorola), then a small company, an engineer named Martin Cooper, held a rectangular box to AT to the then american communications giant

Joel, this is Martin. I used a mobile phone to call you, a real mobile phone.

As the world's first real phone, the machine was the world's first "real phone call "—— when europe and america had mobile phones mobile phones, but all as heavy as desktop computers (left below). Ten years later, the mobile phone, DynaTAC (right below), was officially launched in the first generation of mobile communications systems —— G 1.

On the left is Nokia's predecessor mobira's "mobile phone" sensor, which weighs 22 pounds, launched in 1984. On the right is Motorola's world first "mobile phone" dynatac, which weighs only 2 pounds, launched in 1983. You can imagine how beautiful Motorola was that year. Photo source: gadget Hacks

At this time, there was a small company in Europe called Nokia. At first, they were mainly logging and papermaking, which had nothing to do with telecommunications. But later, their business grew larger and larger, and they fully participated in the mobile phone business. However, Nokia's initial products are still very cumbersome and difficult to compare with Motorola's dynatac, so the development is not smooth. In 1987, Nokia launched its first 1g mobile phone: the cityman 900, also used by Soviet leader Gorbachev (below).

This mobile phone is not a work of breaking the sky. The real far-reaching impact is that in 1987, the European mobile communication industry ushered in a changing pattern - GSM officially became the new standard of European telecommunications industry, and the global telecommunications began the so-called 2G era.

Why GSM becomes the standard and mobile communication world changes? What is the so-called 1g, 2G, 3G, 4G and 5g system? Let's first briefly explain the basic principles of mobile phones:

Yes, your message can be transmitted, the key is that operators have long established a large number of base stations and computer rooms in the country, in the various network infrastructure. Because of this,The baseband chip of your mobile phone and the network infrastructure behind the base station must use the same "language" to communicate with each other and use the mobile network of the operator normally. The "common language" is the so-called communication system.

As a result, when the mobile communications industry has just developed, we will all buy phones at operators to ensure that these phones can function properly on the operator network. But the first G era of mobile communication industry development is not smooth, because of the problem of standards.

Although dynatac is a very new type of mobile phone, the 1g mobile communication system used behind it is still an old analog signal: it can only conduct voice calls, can not convey complex information, and lacks security. It is very easy to be intercepted and disturbed. But most importantly, 1g mobile communication technology is various.

In the 1g global mobile communication industry 30 years ago, there were NMT, amps, hicap, Mobitex, datatac, TACs, ETACS, JTACs, c-450, c-netz, rtmi, NMT, TMA, radiocom 2000... Dozens of old systems that even industry experts could not record, which created a huge problem for the development of mobile communication industry.

Think again: if an operator wants to make the signal complex and comprehensive, and to ensure the signal quality stability, they must spend a lot of money to buy a lot of network infrastructure, use a lot of manpower, and build a base station in any manned location. However, network infrastructure is not cheap. On the other hand, these equipment are large and heavy. It is not easy to set up a single system. How many systems should be set up? Let alone think about it. For mobile phone companies, more complex hardware design is also needed to support different systems and spread goods among more operators, and the cost is naturally higher.

As a result, shortly after the launch of the DynaTAC, in 1983, European countries decided to harmonize standards for next-generation mobile phones and provide more diverse functions. The final product of this plan,Is the second generation mobile network technology (2G) system, its name is: GSM. The unified standard makes the cost of European mobile phone industry drop sharply, and the price and charge of mobile phone also drop rapidly, and mobile phone is popularized rapidly.

Moreover, GSM technology uses the latest digital signal, not only has better anti-jamming ability, but also because the signal is digitally processed, not only can all calls be encrypted, but also can transmit slightly complex data, such as voice message (Voicemail) and text short message SMS, In the future, we can access the Internet through smart phones, but also depends on the mobile phone began to digital age.

Nokia 1011. Photo source: Nokia collection

Nokia quickly kept up with GSM high-speed trains and headed for the 2 G era.

According to Nokia's official information, they began to provide GSM network equipment to Finnish operators in 1989; in 1991, Finnish Prime Minister Hari holker used Nokia's equipment to make the world's first GSM phone; in 1992, Nokia launched the first GSM mobile phone, Nokia 1011 (above).

Motorola lost in 1g Era

The situation in the United States is quite different. By adopting an antitrust law in 1983, the U.S. government AT the largest telecommunications company at the time

Motorola is one of the world's most important network infrastructure manufacturers, in addition to the mobile phones it will build. It was once known as the "king of base stations". But since 1995, Nokia has been expanding rapidly with 2G mobile phones, and soon occupied most of the global market. According to Bloomberg, Motorola's revenue grew 27% between 1993 and 1995, but slowed to 5% between 1995 and 1997, and its profits fell 33%.

Motorola employees complained at the time :" six or seven years ago, Motorola was one of the most respected companies in the world, but now we're talking about how Nokia and Ericsson ate Motorola's lunch.

Motorola startac is a classic analog signal cell phone and the last Elegy of 1G cell phone. Photo source: People's daily

Didn't expect Motorola to respond to Nokia in 1996 when it launched StarTAC. classic StarTAC is the first phone ever to be disassembled, and its small size is also proud of Motorola. Many people were surprised, however, that StarTAC G actually a 1 analog signal phone. When motorola's head of mobile Robert Weisshappel was asked by operators why they did n' t push G 2, he insisted:

What consumers need is a better analog mobile phone, rather than a large, heavy and immature 2G digital mobile phone.

Why is Motorola so nostalgic for 1g analog networks? The reason is that the telecom market in the United States is prosperous and open, leading to the emergence of a large number of small operators. They are not rich in funds, prefer to use the existing old technology, and prefer to lay a good analog signal network. At that time, American telecom companies did not intend to lay a new 2G network, nor to unify the communication system.

Mobile communication systems of different ages. Note that CDMA and TDMA are commonly known. The official names of this system are CDMA one and D-AMPS

Because there is no unified system in the United States, it greatly increases the difficulty for Motorola to develop 2G system technology(above). In fact, Motorola has developed its own 2G Technology (TDMA) for a long time, but due to the poor relationship with TDMA operators, they gave up the technology they had developed for many years in 1990, and instead developed the 2G System CDMA, which has occupied 50% of the U.S. market.

Please remember the 2G system of CDMA, we will see this curse like existence in the future.

Certainly, CDMA is a very good communication technology, but it is also an advanced and complex technology, which makes Motorola's development progress very slow, and even Motorola's top executives admit to underestimating its workload. While they struggled to develop CDMA technology, they were ambitious to develop a variety of more advanced, but more costly ," mobile-networking alternatives ": iDEN, based on interphone technology, and the satellite communications program —— the iridium program (Iridium Phone) that even musk (Elon Musk) failed to implement 30 years later.

Iridium plans to fail in 1999, and spent $5 billion on Motorola (2020 around $10 billion), but only 55 thousand users. In 2004, Ed Zander, who took over Motorola's chief executive, also couldn't help but make complaints about the future of telecom technology. But what's more troublesome is that Motorola's indecision in the system eventually brought down Motorola's network infrastructure business.

Early media analysis pointed out that Motorola gave up GSM at the beginning, making GSM network equipment technology far behind Nokia's competitors, resulting in the total loss of the global 2G device market. Even in the CDMA market, which accounts for 50% of the U.S. domestic market, Motorola's system is notorious for downtime, forcing operators to eventually switch to competitors.There is not much left. Motorola's network share of mobile phone infrastructure has been depleted after the 1999~2000 Internet bubble burst.

Lucent lost in 2G Technology

Although Motorola can't, at that time, its share of network infrastructure business in the United States was largely received by Lucent, the same American company.

America's telecommunications law of 1996 AT the largest telecommunications company in the United States

Lucent inherited the AT

However, Lucent, once the world's largest network infrastructure company, committed itself to Alcatel in France at a low price 10 years later in 2006.Since then, the United States has lost enough power of network infrastructure can only rely on Europe against China's five G forces.

Why did the stars in the U.S. network infrastructure end up in such a field? To some extent, Lucent's death cause is similar to that of Motorola, which is also dragged by various network systems, unable to adapt to the rapid change of communication technology. But the difference is that lucent has not only the basic equipment business of mobile network, but also the huge fixed line telephone and broadband business, and these three categories also have to face the rapid digital transformation.

According to an article in the MIT Science Review, Lucent inherited ATIn order to catch up with the digital demand, they made a lot of high price acquisitions—— Includes $24 billion acquisition of technology solution supplier Ascend.

The purchase price of US $24 billion is still the highest in history, but it is also a famous failure case recorded in history.

Lucent's R & D funds and the number of patents applied. Data collated from the rise and promise of Lucent Technologies

These acquisitions did not bring much effect. Instead, they recorded a huge loss of over $10 billion for two consecutive years after the outbreak of the Internet bubble in 2000. This has led to difficulties in financing lucent, together with various debt disputes with customers, which has caused them serious financial problems. In addition to selling the profitable departments, Lucent has also laid off 8500 managers and engineers, and the R & D resources are increasingly strained (above). Soon they found that they are in the fixed band optical fiber network and have lost their competitiveness.

Since 2003, the global market share of different systems, left axis is the share, right axis is the number of users. Photo source: Wikipedia

After the Internet bubble burst, the global mobile business market developed rapidly,Lucent began to focus on the 2G network equipment in the United States, mainly CDMA, and gave up most of the investment in GSM, their executives have repeatedly proposed overseas that the development of GSM has come to an end and CDMA still has a lot of room for development. But GSM's global strength (pictured above) also severely limits lucent's development.

Lucent's key client Cingular (today's AT),2003

In some articles, the analysis of why the United States lost in the 5g war seems to end here, but it is not the case.

Qualcomm lost in 3G patent

We've just mentioned the curse of motorola and lucent: CDMA—— the u.s .2 communications system, which they have high hopes of competing with european GSM technology, is another important reason to drag down the u.s. network infrastructure industry.

In 1985, seven American Communication Engineers established Qualcomm with the goal of "quality communications". They developed CDMA one, whose network capacity is three times that of TDMA and more than twice that of GSM. But even if CDMA quality is so good, according to Wikipedia, Qualcomm is not very successful in promoting related technologies. In 1990, it even started to raise funds for survival, and in 1998, it cut 700 jobs.

The famous but notorious patent wall of Qualcomm. Photo source: Telecom TV

And the lack of a unified mobile system in the U.S. makes it difficult for Qualcomm to promote CDMA. Motorola, for example, initially had its own TDMA two G format, and looked down on qualcomm. Their executives even think that choosing which technology is not different for themselves.

Therefore, Qualcomm had to apply for all CDMA related patents at that time, until they almost monopolized all CDMA related technologies. After 1993, Motorola noticed the value of CDMA as the share of CMDA expanded. However, they can't bypass Qualcomm's patent and can only buy chips from Qualcomm. However, the high price of Qualcomm's chips has deterred them from going back to research and development, which has also brought down Motorola.

Motorola is a competitor to Qualcomm. In business, Qualcomm is not wrong. However, Qualcomm monopolized most of the related patents, which directly prevented CDMA from being popularized. CDMA system, even in the United States, is divided into half of the market by GSM (2006 data). In the global market, Qualcomm has been striving for a fast rising Chinese market. However, it is reported that due to the concentration of related patents in Qualcomm, its high patent fee policy brings higher costs, and the market share of CDMA system in China is far lower than that of GSM.

CDMA has not been universal, and the two major U.S. manufacturers of network infrastructure, which are betting on CDMA, have been implicated.

CDMA, which is dominated by the United States, would have had a chance to be popularized all over the world. When the 3G system was first developed around the world, the European telecom industry had to use more advanced CDMA technology to meet the bandwidth needs. Although they switched to WCDMA technology, which involves the lowest level of Qualcomm's patents (Qualcomm claims to own 38% of the relevant patents), Qualcomm refused to grant the license, resulting in a deadlock in the negotiations.

Qualcomm finally conceded that the three G were divided into europe-led WCDMA、 qualcomm-led CDMA2000、 and three different formats used in china, and could not escape the manipulation of qualcomm CDMA technology.

Because of this, Qualcomm continues to cause great controversy in the 3G era by charging high patent fees. For many years, Qualcomm has been regarded as a "company that no one likes". The CDMA technology, which was originally very powerful, has also become the eyesore of the telecom industry. Results in 2005, when the industry discussed the 4G system, the entire industry jointly rejected Qualcomm's original CDMA based 4G scheme (UMB), constructed the LTE system adopted in today's 4G era, and kicked most CDMA related patents out of the 4G standard in the future.

So while qualcomm can still be hailed as the most powerful communications technology company in the west,But when they lost the moat of CDMA, Qualcomm could not control the direction of the mobile communication system alone, nor suppress the emerging Chinese forces in the 5g system in the future.

Telecom industry lost in money

For why the United States is lagging behind in the current five G, a lot of analysis not only ignored the existence of Qualcomm, but also ignored one point: why Qualcomm does not develop network infrastructure business.

At first, Qualcomm had the business of mobile phone and network infrastructure, but in 1999, Qualcomm sold its mobile phone business to Kyocera, then its network infrastructure business to Ericsson, and then focused on earning patent fees and mobile chip business. Why does Qualcomm prefer to carry on the bad name of "patent cockroach" instead of making money through patent fees? Why not sell mobile phones and network infrastructure like Nokia or Motorola?

You know, the U.S. technology industry is already very strong, even if Motorola or Lucent fell, it is not impossible to re-establish, or even re-turn overtaking.but And the real reason for the weakness of the U.S. network infrastructure is that Qualcomm or Motorola companies have abandoned manufacturing, specialized in technology, Google oApple And so on emerging giants never consider taking over.

The high-tech manufacturing industry has always been hard money. In addition to the research and development of technology, enterprises have to take a huge risk to invest in a large number of production costs. In addition, they have to set up factories, recruit a large number of engineers and skilled workers, which consumes the resources of enterprises extremely, and the rate of return is not high. Moreover, in recent years, a large number of high-tech manufacturing industries in Europe and the United States outflow, also caused a serious brain drain. As mentioned earlier, apple is reluctant to return the supply chain to the United States because it can't find enough engineers. They also had to hire the old employees who have left their jobs again and again because of the lack of engineers.

Nokia's mobile phone business and network infrastructure business are compared, and the data is embedded in Nokia

And the enterprise wants to earn the money of network basic equipment, it is more difficult. In the heyday of nokia, for example, in 2004, the mobile-phone sector posted up to three times as much revenue as network-based devices, and operating profit was four times that of network-based devices. What's the reason? In addition to producing hardware, network infrastructure services continue to provide a large number of related services, compared to the production of mobile phones or electronic components, more thankless.

Some people in the industry pointed out that in Europe and the United States, for example, where the number of engineers is insufficient, Ericsson must make an appointment a few working days in advance, and finally send one or two engineers to assist, which may not be completed immediately. At that time, operators have received a lot of complaints and lost tens of millions of turnover and goodwill. But for Chinese companies with a large number of engineers, operators only need to make an appointment one day in advance. The next day, they can see more than five teams of engineers to solve the problem.

Photo source: curiosity daily

Mobile communications industry is a huge food chain, the composition is quite complex, since the emergence of smart phones, the entire mobile industry chain more reshuffle. As can be seen from the image above, both the downstream internet (Google) and the mobile terminal industry (apple) are eating meat easily, while the upstream operators (china mobile) and the network infrastructure industry (nokia) can only nibble bones hard.

Nokia, for example, once ranked 85th in the Fortune 500 global in 2010 with the help of mobile phones, but then only the network infrastructure business fell to the edge of 466. But apple, driven by its smartphone business, has risen sharply from the top 11. Although Qualcomm is also unable to enter the Fortune 500, in 1999, he spun off the network infrastructure industry and focused on CDMA patents. After that, he also climbed from 440 in the United States to the highest 110 in 2016.

So in February this year, it was reported that the U.S. government wanted companies to acquire Ericsson or Nokia to fight against 5g power in China, but Chuck Robbins, chief executive of Cisco, refused directly. He responded that network infrastructure, a low profit business, is not suitable for Cisco's business model.

Why does Qualcomm, the mobile communications giant, prefer to collect high taxes instead of network infrastructure business? Why does apple, which has a strong desire to control the vertical industry, never consider developing network infrastructure? Why is Cisco not going to take over Nokia's network infrastructure business? Because everyone just wants meat, not bones. These downstream companies are in control of the mobile phone industry in the middle and lower reaches, and no one cares about the network infrastructure business can not make a lot of money.

America lost in 5g

At this point, it seems that the United States and American companies are all wrong in their strategic situation.

That's right, that's all it says,But any company wants to dominate the mobile communication industry in the 21st century. It depends on Google's face to make mobile phone system and Qualcomm's chip to make mobile phone. Where is America like losing in the mobile communication war?You know, not many European and American companies want to participate in the network infrastructure business. Chinese companies, in turn, have abandoned themselves and made great efforts in network infrastructure in recent years, occupying an important position in the 4G industry.

But why should the US wait until recent years to do everything it can to stop China from expanding on the world's five- G network infrastructure?

The problem is 5g's vision, which is totally different. Since the 1g era, the whole mobile communication scene is mainly mobile phones and related mobile devices, and the impact range is mostly consumer electronic terminals, which is the leading category of American technology, other countries can not get away from the control of American technology. However, 5g network will cover all aspects of us through the Internet of things. Smart cities need 5g to connect, and the new concept of industrialization 4.0 also needs 5g.

5G application scenarios. Photo source: Jupiter

in short, 5G is no longer just a mobile network, but the lifeblood of the whole country and city (above), and it is no longer controlled by mobile phones and mobile terminals firmly controlled by American technology, and the U.S. industry can not catch up with it in terms of the American high-tech manufacturing environment.Because of this, trump couldn't help falling off the phone when he heard Johnson's reply.

However,This does not mean that China won the mobile communication war. On the contrary, the game is just beginning.China is only the leader in 5g battlefield, which can't be compared with the situation that European and American countries monopolized the communication industry 20 years ago.

First of all, the United States is pressing other countries not to let China participate in the 5g construction. Moreover, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and other countries still prohibit Chinese suppliers from participating in 5g network construction in the country. Even if some countries allow China to participate, they only allow China to participate in some non core projects.

Second, China has not succeeded in monopolizing G 5 industries, nor should it attempt to monopolize the 5 industries at all.Because 5g will control the lifeblood of the country, China does not want to be controlled by others, nor should it try to control the lifeblood of other countries, because what China needs is partners, not by controlling other countries, to create unnecessary enemies.Moreover, 5g market is so huge that China can't draw or eat all the pancakes on its own. Only by cooperating with each other can we develop and share the results together.

Chinese companies and industry strategists on the way to leading the 5th G don't forget to learn the lessons of the past in america.

Finally, we attach a diagram made by tiger sniff for you to see how the global communication industry has gone from 1G in the past 40 years.

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