Much of the discourse around 5G suggests that 5G networks in and of themselves will somehow unlock all sorts of value by enabling radically improved connectivity. Yet, the underlying questions not given enough attention are: who is likely to capture value from the vastly faster connectivity, and how will that value be captured? Will the builders of 5G networks—network operators—somehow benefit from offering much faster but far costlier networks?
Will 5G strengthen the already-strong position of incumbent global cloud computing providers Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft? Does 5G provide dramatically new opportunities for new entrants or drive a paradigm shift of the sorts we saw with the advent of the Internet, and if so, how might this play out? Is China advantaged decisively in a world of 5G, and if so, how? What are the potential roles of government?