US and China 5G Race: What Is It and Why You Should Care

This week we have a guest blogger with a great perspective we’re excited to share with you! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

5G perks go beyond its faster speeds

The fifth generation network technology (5G) boasts of some very exclusive features. Expectations place its speeds at up to 100 times faster than 4G mobile broadband. It’s also expected to provide 10-times less latency, 10-times the network density, 100 times more traffic handling, 3-times the spectrum and a lot of other networking features.

Benefits of 5G

Expected improvements of 5G technology

But the technology isn’t all about the improvements its users are expected to enjoy. Apparently, 5G has also triggered a global network supremacy race. Countries such as the United States (US) and China have taken it so seriously that governments have openly become involved with telcos and other technological companies to give a leg up to their respective nations.

Who is winning the race?

Telcos in the United States have invested over $275 billion to build the infrastructure for 5G technology. Policy makers in the US have also made some effort to achieve high spectrum for 5G technology. For example, in 2016 an 11GHz wave spectrum was tried, along with an additional 1700 MHz banding in 2017 to meet speed requirements.

China has also combined support from both the industries involved and the government, in an effort to stay ahead of the competition. The country plans to roll out 5G by the end of 2020 and is working at a rapid pace. China has spent $24 billion adding more than 350,000 wireless networking facilities since 2015, and already has reserves of over 1.9 million wireless sites all over the country.

The United States, on the other hand, has only 200,000 sites. This means an average of 0.4 sites per 10 square miles — a lot less when compared to China, which has 5.3 sites per the same area.

Top 10 5G-ready countries.

Global ranking for 5G readiness.

Chinese company Huawei has also displayed advancements in the 5G technology sector. The company released a 5G chipset, Balong 5Go1, during the 2018 Mobile World Congress held at Barcelona. Huawei is also expected to release a 5G smartphone by the end of 2019.

5G centers in the United States, China, and others

Countries with the highest number of wireless centers.

However, the United States has put a halt to Huawei with allegations that the infrastructure of the company is putting the security of the United States at risk. Accusations have gone as far as claiming that Huawei plans on using its technology to spy on the United States, and other countries have seemingly been convinced to penalize the company.

So far, the race between the US and China is turning out to be an all-out war. The 5G battleground is set, as it spills over to other technologies as well as private companies. The effects of a win will have an impact on both a micro and macro level, as both countries struggle to capture a major stake of the potential $251Bn global 5G market.

Why should you care?

The development of 5G technology is important for a variety of reasons. Aside from what consumers may find attractive about 5G — fast speeds, to be precise — the technology could be a launching pad for advancements in other industries. 5G is expected to improve artificial intelligence, autonomous innovations, cloud-based applications, IoT applications, and more.

The implications are therefore significant. As a result, whichever countries are first to the 5G table may hold some significant advantages over others. Such countries envision significant GDP growth, technological potential, and advanced resources at their disposal.

The technology’s abilities are a result of:

  • Improved precision

The fifth generation wireless technology will function via radio frequencies. This means higher frequencies that are more direct, resulting in less energy loss during transmission. The lack of interference in the cellular signal path will ensure higher, uninterrupted speeds.

  • Low latency

Low to zero latency, another characteristic of 5G technology, will ensure more uses of the cloud as well as improve autonomous innovations. Other benefits include buffer-free loading and innovations in virtual reality, AI, and machine learning technologies.

Final words

5G goes beyond faster speeds for consumer devices. This technology is expected to boost innovation in a number of other industries. From the automobile industry to healthcare and smart cities, 5G’s impact on autonomous, AI technologies, and cloud-based technologies will be far reaching.

Given the implications of the technology, the global 5G race will remain very competitive. The global 5G market is expected to hit $251Bn by 2025, making it a lucrative investment for the leading countries. As the US and China battle for a leadership position, other countries are quite aware of what’s at stake. The field will grow as technology becomes widely acquired, and whoever the leaders are will be in a better position to supply to others that later join the race. In the meantime though, US and China see a first-mover approach as highly beneficial. Whether for ego or otherwise, this seems to be the correct position to take where 5G is concerned.

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