5G race: Here's a 'warning' for the US

United States falling behind China in race to 5G wireless: Deloitte report

Deloitte added that it's not too late for the United States to eventually emerge as a leader.

In the same period, the USA had built less than 30,000 new sites, the report said, adding that China's current five-year economic plan had allotted a sum of US$400 billion for investments related to 5G.

China and other countries are creating "a 5G tsunami" that the USA will not be able to match unless it steps up its national investments in 5G cellular communications, Deloitte Consulting warns in a new report.

China has built 350,000 new cell sites, while the United States has built fewer than 30,000 in the same time-frame.

"Maintaining US leadership in mobile communications requires that carriers, technology vendors, OTT innovators, municipalities and policy makers collaborate to build a strong business case for 5G", said Dan Littmann, a Deloitte Consulting principal in tech, in a statement.

5G is expected to enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output in 2035, IHS Markit estimated in a recent report.

China now has 10 times more sites to support 5G communications than the United States.

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Together with a number of other countries in the region, China is on its way to create "a 5G tsunami", making it "nearly impossible" for the U.S.to catch up, as per the same study.

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.

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.

China was building network site density at an unprecedented rate, the report said, adding that China Tower, the leading provider of sites, owned about 96% of macro towers, small cells and DAS sites that were used by the country's wireless carriers. This compares to just 4.7 sites per 10,000 people and 0.4 sites per 10 square miles in the US. This means the U.S. has 0.4 sites compared to China's 5.3 sites for every 10 square miles.

It's clear what the U.S. stands to gain from 5G investments: "Being first to LTE afforded the United States macroeconomic benefits as it became a test bed for innovative mobile, social, and streaming applications", the report says.

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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