Friday, 17 August, 2018

Will 5G Deployment Lag in the U.S.?

Posters about 5G technology by China Mobile on the 2nd World Posters about 5G technology by China Mobile are seen at the 2nd World Intelligence Congress. Getty Images Zhang Peng
Roberta Sherman | 10 August, 2018, 03:56

Deloitte's report noted that China plans hundreds of billions of dollars in 5G-related spend.

"Today the RAN equipment market is undergoing multiple technology transitions as network operators move to densify macro networks with small cells, tackle in-building wireless and evolve to new technologies such as 5G, Licensed Assisted Access, unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies such as OnGo in the United States, and MulteFire", Nick Marshall of ABI Research said in a statement.

As a result, the USA risked losing out on the potential economic benefits of the technology that's generally perceived as the mobile industry's future, the report said.

It said China Tower had invested US$17.7 billion and added more than 350,000 sites since 2015. "The potential economic benefits of 5G will soon become a key differentiator for cities looking to attract both businesses and residents. For the U.S. to remain competitive and eventually emerge as a leader, the race to 5G should be carefully evaluated and swift actions should be taken". Now, while the United States has less than five cell sites per 10,000 people, China has more than 14.

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Deloitte considers a range of actions that could address this challenge including light-touch regulatory frameworks, collaboration between carriers and other organizations, and the establishment of a national communications infrastructure database.

"Consequently, China and other countries may be creating a 5G tsunami, making it near impossible to catch up", the report said.

China also had much lower costs for adding a carrier, with the Deloitte report estimating that the equipment necessary for adding a carrier was about 65% that in the US.

Infrastructure joint venture China Tower added around 460 sites per day in 2017, suggesting that U.S. tower companies and operators added fewer sites in the last three years than China Tower added in three months. This means the USA has 0.4 sites compared to China's 5.3 sites for every 10 square miles.

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"China Tower has a total of approximately 1.9 million wireless sites, compared to approximately 200,000 in the US".

But in April, a report from CTIA, a trade association for the U.S. wireless industry, said the United States needs a clearer schedule for the allocation of radio frequencies, similar to what has been announced in China and South Korea.

At the same time, the new revenue streams carriers expected to create with LTE networks largely failed to materialize, Deloitte says.

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