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China Ahead Of U.S. In Race For 5G Technology

August 07, 2018 - 1:40 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Is China beating the U.S. to the punch on 5G technology?

A new study from Deloitte Consulting says China has outspent the United States by $24 billion on 5G technology since 2015.

CNET reported that China built 350,000 new cellphone tower sites and the U.S. only built 30,000, and China also added more sites in a period of three months last year than the U.S. had in the previous three years.

The report warned that the first country to adopt the next generation of wireless communications will see “disproportionate gains,” and 5G will bring “an era of untapped economic potential,” CNET reported.

The report further said it is about 35 percent cheaper in China to install the equipment required for 5G than in the U.S.

“It’s a very big deal, because 5G is the future – not just of what we do with our smartphones, but the way our cars interact with each other and with services – just a lot of things are going to happen through 5G networks,” said CBS News Technology Analyst Larry Magid. “And the Chinese are ahead of us when it comes to infrastructure, which is the most important aspect of 5G – all of those servers and switchers and routers, et cetera, that make this happen – and radios of course – really, so far, the Chinese are winning this battle.”

Magid told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott that much more is involved in the infrastructure preparation for 5G than cell towers.

“There’s just a lot of switches and devices that have to be made compatible. And these are big systems. These aren’t just handsets that you pick up at the Apple Store – although that’s part of it. These are systems that the carriers need to make it work from their end, and of course, there’s also chips and chip sets and other technology software that needs to be developed,” Magid said. “And Chinese companies – including companies like ZTE, which has been heavily criticized for potential security issues – are very much involved in 5G technology.”

With 5G technology, users will be able to download a movie almost instantaneously, Magid said. There are also numerous other possibilities.

“Telemedicine becomes possible. Mobile could really take over from traditional wired broadband – there would actually be no need, unless it were less expensive, to have a cable or DSL if you could have a very high-speed cellular connection going right into your home,” Magid said.

China also has a strategic advantage in its lead in 5G development, Magid said. He noted that there are industrial and military uses for the technology, and it is also involved in the artificial intelligence research in which China is involved.

U.S. companies are aware of the issue, and Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, are trying to get ahead of the game.

“But it’s very important to have that infrastructure, and if the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world have to buy their equipment from Chinese manufacturers as opposed to American manufacturers, that puts China in a very good position both economically and potentially strategically,” Magid said.

Magid said 5G coverage will be seen next year, and to some degree maybe this year, but widespread coverage is likely to come in 2020 and beyond.