Underlying many security concerns about 5G is its importance in providing critical infrastructure to society – similar to power lines, water networks or port facilities. This is particularly true for 5G, compared to previous generations such as 4G, due to its capacity to support a multitude of different applications. Its uses go beyond just making calls and streaming videos, as it will also have a role to play in connecting factories, cars and even whole cities – making 5G networks a critical infrastructure that needs to be protected from cyber-attacks, spying, and control by foreign powers.
At the same time, infrastructure investments by telecom operators will most likely increase in the coming years because of 5G. Implementing 5G will require denser networks (using small cells) that involves heavy investment in new telecom equipment – including antennas and fibre connections to base stations – and the licensing of the necessary spectrum. The consultat agency McKinsey, for example, has projected that the “total cost of ownership” for mobile networks of telecom operators will increase somewhere between 60% and 300% over the next few years.