A visitor walks past an illuminated 5G logo during the 10th Global mobile broadband forum hosted by Chinese tech giant Huawei in Zurich on October 15, 2019. Photo: AFP / Stefan Wermuth

Wireless communication networks are very complex, subject to rapid technological change, costly to develop and protected by extensive intellectual property. Only a few companies in the world are able to produce them economically. This has forced extensive industry consolidation.

Huawei, with annual revenues of about $100 billion, has become  the clear technology and sales leader, followed after a big gap by Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE. There are no US vendors left. Hence, the latest technology 5G equipment market is  controlled by a small number of vendors who sell proprietary  products.

Carrier customers must commit to one supplier exclusively because key products are not interchangeable. This gives vendors enormous leverage. As a result,  network operators are concerned about high equipment prices  and governments are concerned about protecting data security on equipment from foreign sources.