Monday, April 16, 2018

The Race for 5G and Why It's Important

Two new reports relating to 5G deployment have just been released that deserve much attention.  The first, by Analysys Mason, is titled, “Global Race to 5G – Spectrum and Infrastructure Plans and Priorities.” The second, by Recon Analytics, is titled “How America’s 4G Leadership Propelled the U.S. Economy.” Both reports were commissioned by CTIA.

Given the importance of the development of next generation, high capacity 5G networks to the nation’s social and economic well-being, these two new reports warrant a deep dive. We expect that over the coming weeks and months we’ll come back to them often.

Based on a quick look, here are a few key takeaways:

  • China and South Korea presently are leading the U.S. in the race to develop and deploy 5G networks, but their lead is slim.
  • America’s wireless industry still leads other nations in making commercial investments that are necessary for 5G deployment, so this bodes well for our nation’s prospects.
  • The research shows that the race, or competition, if you will, to deploy 5G networks matters because the U.S. leadership in deploying 4G led to economic growth and employment gains that otherwise would have gone to other countries. Presumably, the same will be true for 5G.

All of this is not to say that the 5G “race” is a zero-sum game. Of course, other nations will benefit – and should – as they get ready to deploy 5G networks. But it is to say that the U.S. stands to gain much – from increased investment in infrastructure to new jobs in new fields to yet-to-be imagined “Internet of Things” technologies and services -- by maintaining its leadership in the wireless space. Just as America did with 4G.

So, again, the two new reports are worthy of careful consideration. It is not necessary to vouch for every estimate or projection in the reports – we don’t really know now whether ultimately 5G networks will add $500 billion to our economy or $450 or $550 billion! – to appreciate the importance of the coming of 5G. The scale of 5G’s ultimate impact is clear.

And so it follows, as night follows day, or 5G follows 4G, that it is crucial that our nation’s policymakers, in Congress, at the FCC, in the Trump Administration, put in place proper policies to ensure adequate spectrum availability and infrastructure deployment.