5G: Why is Samsung cool, Chinese tech brands cold and US brands domineering?
- Given the potential security ramifications, the race to build Southeast Asia’s 5G networks goes beyond just securing contracts
The survey of more than 1,300 experts, analysts and business leaders in the region revealed that 39 per cent of them opted for the Korean brand.
A quarter said they had confidence in Chinese telecoms companies including Datang Telecom, Huawei and ZTE Corp, while only 13 per cent selected American brands as their top choice.
“Korea has a balance of entertainment and science. [It has] brands, songs, actors, and dramas on one hand, and Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia on the other,” she said. “Korean brands seem to have a heart and soul on top of the tech.”
“Furthermore, the perception of big brother watching over communication does not bolster trust,” she added.
Meanwhile, younger Southeast Asians feel US brands are “domineering” and have an “American slant”, while the current political and economic situation gave them the impression the US was a “bully”.
Earlier this month, it signed a deal with Malaysian telecom provider Maxis to collaborate on 4G and 5G-related projects. Huawei signed agreements with international cities such as London, Seoul, and Tokyo relating to the same programme, called TechCity.
When rolling out its S$40 million (US$29.7 million) plan to research 5G in June last year, the city state’s Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said Singapore would have security requirements in place, “whichever telecom operator” it works with.
A ministry spokesman added that Singapore encourages “vendor diversity” in its systems, and that it was still studying the risks involved.
The finding of the survey surprised Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental Studies.
He explained that as no US companies are currently offering 5G networks, it could be implied that the respondents “do not really know very much” what the survey was about.
He questioned: “How can anyone deeply involved in 5Gs believe US companies are better placed than Ericsson or Nokia in delivering 5G in the near future?”