Report: U.S. Tied with China in Global 5G Race

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A year ago, the U.S. was behind several other countries, including China and South Korea, when it came to 5G readiness. Now, America has made strides and is tied for “first” place with China, according to a new report from telecom research firm Analysys Mason, which conducted the analysis on behalf of CTIA.  

Making enough spectrum available to America’s wireless industry over the next five years will help secure 5G leadership, as well as add $391 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.8 million new jobs, according to the research. CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker cites efforts by the administration, Congress and the FCC for the progress.

Those efforts include FCC actions to modernize its telecommunications infrastructure siting policies and spur industry investment. In March and September of 2018, the FCC updated its rules to treat small cells differently than macro towers, easing small cell deployment by speeding the approval process and capping siting fees in a public ROW. Also, more than 20 states have looked to the agency’s rules as guidelines for their small cell infrastructure deployment rules.

“We can’t be complacent as the 5G race has really just begun. We must redouble our efforts to combat the 5G ambitions and investments by China and others,” said Attwell Baker.

For the second year in a row, Analysys Mason’s study ranked countries on their 5G readiness. Not only has the U.S. moved up, the findings show South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom follow America, in that order.

Key findings include:

  • The U.S. scored the highest across all countries surveyed in Analysys Mason’s report on industry 5G commitment. By the end of 2019, America will have almost double the number of its next highest rival.
  • The U.S. leads in the availability of high- and low-band spectrum for 5G but is behind in the availability of mid-band spectrum. Mid-band spectrum is critical to 5G due to its combination of high capacity and ability to cover large geographic areas. Other countries plan to make over four times more licensed mid-band spectrum available than the United States by 2020.
  • U.S. policymakers at the federal and state levels have been instrumental in easing barriers to small cell deployment that have helped pave the way for the U.S. to lead in commercial 5G deployments.

While the U.S. has significantly improved its position in the 5G race, a number of challenges remain. China retains a significant infrastructure advantage. A recent study showed China with more than 14 wireless cell sites per 10,000 people, compared to 4.7 in the United States, and more than five sites per every 10 square miles, compared to 0.4 in the U.S.

China and other countries also possess significant advantages in the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G. While the U.S. leads in planned commercial deployments in 2019, China’s wireless operators are conducting hundreds of large-scale 5G trials and have announced plans for ‘pre-commercial’ 5G deployments in 2019, underscoring the need for policymakers to foster greater investment and deployment in the U.S.

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April 3, 2019

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