(Reuters) – The United States is being outspent by China in the race to build the next generation of wireless communication, known as 5G, and it risks losing out on the potential economic benefits, according to a report by consultants Deloitte published on Tuesday.
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 $24 billion since 2015 and has built 350,000 new cell phone tower sites, while the U.S. built less than 30,000.
The report notes it may also be about 35% cheaper to install equipment necessary to add carriers to 5G in China as compared to the United States.
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 US 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 US adjust policy to reduce deployment time, encourage carriers to collaborate, and implement a database of statistics and best practices.
(Reporting by Kara Carlson; editing by Clive McKeef)