As China aims to commercialize 5G services in 2019, one year ahead of its previous schedule, a new report shows that the country is already slightly ahead of South Korea and the United States in the race to develop fifth generation wireless networks.
The study released by the CTIA, a US-based industry association of wireless carriers, suggested that the US is lagging in the effort to deploy the superfast wireless systems that will be needed for self-driving cars, telemedicine and other technologies.
The report prepared by research firm Analysys Mason found that all major Chinese providers have committed to specific launch dates and the government has committed to allocate a spectrum for the carriers.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the nation’s big three telecom carriers -China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom－will start to install medium and low-frequency bands in 2019 and 2020, with high-frequency bands likely to be tested in 2022 at the earliest in some regions of the country.
Qiao Yueshan, deputy director of the ministry’s information technology department, said he expects that Chinese manufacturers will unveil 5G-ready base station equipment by the end of this year, which will give the country a first-mover edge in building 5G networks.
According to CTIA’s 10-nation study, the US is in the first tier of countries in preparing deployment of 5G, along with China, South Korea and Japan. The second tier includes key European markets such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, with Singapore, Russia and Canada in the third tier.
Industry officials say 5G deployment will reap important economic benefits for the leading nations, and that lagging behind could have negative effects.
“The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA president and chief executive.
“I’m confident that America can win and reap the significant economic benefits of 5G wireless due to our world-leading commercial investments.”
Baker said the US still needs to enact measures to reform local zoning rules and unlock access to spectrum as part of a broader plan for 5G.
“I’m optimistic we will leapfrog China because key leaders in the administration, on Capitol Hill and at the Federal Communications Commission are focused on the reforms needed to win the race.”
According to the study, Europe led the way in 2G, the second generation, while Japan was ahead in 3G and the United States in 4G.