China tied with US in global 5G race


China and the US are tied for the first, at least for now, in the race for 5G, or fifth-generation wireless networks expected to unlock new services, a new survey finds on Tuesday.

Logo 1China enjoys “significant advantages” in infrastructure and the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G, key for data transfer, according to a report for wireless industry group CTIA by Analysys Mason, a global communications research firm, which is yet to have a branch in mainland China.

Analysts expect 5G networks to play a crucial role in delivering data for autonomous vehicles, remote medicine and other services with heavy data usage.

The study showed China with more than 14 wireless cell sites per 10,000 people, compared to 4.7 in the US, and more than five sites per every 10 square miles, compared to 0.4 in the US.

China and other countries also possess significant advantages in the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G, it showed.

“Beijing has committed to giving Chinese operators large chunks of spectrum for 5G”, MIT Technology Review has pointed out.

“That’s a far cushier arrangement than operators enjoy in the US and many other countries, where they pay regulators billions of dollars for the right to use slivers of spectrum.”

These radio frequencies carry wireless signals and are critical to cellular service, especially 5G, which will need wide swaths of bandwidth to provide users with superfast speeds.

Making an influx of spectrum available to America’s wireless industry over the next five years will help secure America’s 5G leadership, add $391 billion to the US economy and create 1.8 million new jobs, Analysis Mason’s survey suggests.

The findings show the US moving from third place in 2018 to a first place tie with China. South Korea, which trailed China last year, Japan and the United Kingdom follow, in that order.

The improvement in the US ranking is attributed to significant investment by America’s wireless industry in 5G networks as well as government action to reform infrastructure policies and make more spectrum available to wireless operators.

“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 Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO.

While the US leads in planned commercial deployments in 2019, China’s wireless operators are conducting hundreds of large-scale 5G trials across the country and have announced plans for ‘pre-commercial’ 5G deployments within 2019, underscoring the need for policymakers to foster greater investment and deployment in the US.

5G shanghai
Shanghai takes the lead

Shanghai has taken a fresh step in leading the 5G pack by constructing what it says is the world’s first district boasting both the coverage of a fifth generation mobile network and a gigabit broadband network.

The latest prototype, which serves as a precursor to larger-scale 5G commercial use versions set to be unveiled this year, underscores how China is determined to be a world leader in digital technology, experts said.

A trial run of the 5G network, backed by the country’s top telecom carrier China Mobile, officially began on Saturday in Shanghai’s Hongkou district, where 5G base stations have been deployed to ensure full coverage.


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