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.

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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