U.S. cellular carriers may be the first to launch large-scale 5G networks, but China is deploying far more 5G infrastructure at a rapid clip, says global consultancy Deloitte — a difference that could soon make China the world’s leader in next-generation wireless technology. In a new report, the firm recommends that U.S. regulators and carriers rapidly adjust their 5G plans, lest they get caught in a “5G tsunami, making it near impossible to catch up.”
Fifth-generation, or 5G, cellular networks are the next evolution of wireless technology, promising dramatic improvements in bandwidth, responsiveness, security, and ubiquity compared with today’s 4G/LTE networks. Deloitte and many other consultants agree that the first countries to adopt 5G will benefit from what the report calls “disproportionate gains,” since the ability to connect everything wirelessly will let a country’s companies benefit from an “era of untapped economic potential.”
According to Deloitte, China has recently picked up the pace of its 5G work, adding more mobile sites in three months than the United States did in the prior three years. While U.S. carriers have built under 30,000 new cell sites since 2015, China has built 350,000, in addition to spending $24 billion more on 5G.
But that considerable amount is merely the tip of the iceberg. Deloitte notes that China plans to spend hundreds of billions of additional dollars on 5G, and also has a 35 percent price advantage when it comes to adding new equipment. Citing security concerns, U.S. authorities have refused to allow lower-cost equipment from China’s…