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China beating the US on 5G rollout, report finds

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China is spending more on rolling out fast 5G coverage than the US according to a new report from consultancy Deloitte.

It warns that unless the US starts moving faster companies will be at a disadvantage in implementing innovative use cases for the new superfast mobile networks.

China currently has ten times more sites to support 5G communications than the United States. In just three months of 2017, Chinese cell phone tower companies and carriers added more sites than the US had done in the previous three years, the Deloitte Consulting report found.

The first countries to adopt the next generation of wireless communications will experience “disproportionate gains,” as 5G brings an “era of untapped economic potential”, the report said.

China has outspent the United States by $24bn (£19bn) since 2015 and has built 350,000 new cell phone tower sites, while the US built fewer than 30,000. The report notes it may also be about 35 per cent cheaper to install equipment necessary to add carriers to 5G in China as compared to the US.

It also cited the benefits of the “data-network effect” in which early leadership in new markets translates into more users who generate more data which provides the funding to improve the underlying services and increases the number of users.

“Accordingly, countries that adopt 5G first are expected to experience disproportionate gains in macroeconomic impact compared to those that lag,” the authors of the report said.

This report comes after the US Federal Communications Commission announced new rules for bidding on high-band spectrum which is expected to be used in the future for 5G.

Dan Littmann, a principal at Deloitte, said in a statement that “for the U.S. to remain competitive and eventually emerge as a leader, the race to 5G should be carefully evaluated and swift actions should be taken.” The United States could still catch up, the report said, and recommended the USadjust policy to reduce deployment time, encourage carriers to collaborate, and implement a database of statistics and best practices.

Last month Qualcomm unveiled the first modules designed to allow smartphones to connect to 5G networks. Interest in the new networks from companies, public bodies and academics is also ramping up in the UK ahead of an anticipated rollout in the next two years according to a report in June.

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