[Fareed Zakaria does a great job of illustrating the 5G issues in a 3m 27s video]
The Trump administration is betting on the wrong technology.
Which new technology wins in the marketplace - whether mobile phones or video players or 5G - depends on which standard most of the world adopts.
So, will the U.S. or China win the 5G race?
- Only one metric really counts: choice of 'spectrum' - which 5G standard will become the global standard ?
‘The question of spectrum allocation is at the heart of the 5G competition, for the spectrum band of choice, whether sub-6 or mmWave, impacts nearly every other aspect of 5G development,’ says a recent report from the Defense Innovation Board, an advisory committee to the Department of Defense.
- China and most of the world plan to use 'sub-6.'
- Right now the U.S. plans to use 'mmWave' (in part because the Department of Defense controls sub-6 and is reluctant to give up any of it).
'The United States may choose to continue down the path of mmWave, but the rest of the world is focused on building out sub-6 infrastructure, with China in the lead,' says the report.
- ‘U.S. carriers may continue to pursue mmWave, but it is impossible to lead in the 5G field without followers.’
- ‘Leadership in wireless networks requires the global market to subscribe to and build to the specifications of the leader’s spectrum bands of choice.’
- ‘The rest of the world does not face the same sub-6 spectrum limitations as U.S. carriers [that is, sub-6 dominated by the DoD], and is subsequently pursuing 5G development in that range [sub-6].’
‘China plans to deploy the first widespread 5G network, with its first set of sub-6 services becoming available in 2020.’
- ‘First-mover advantage will likely drive significant increases in their handset and telecom equipment vendors market along with their domestic semiconductor and system suppliers.'
- 'As a result, Chinese internet companies will be well-positioned to develop services and applications for their home market that take advantage of 5G speed and low latency.’
- ‘As 5G is deployed across the globe in similar bands of spectrum, China’s handset and internet applications and services are likely to become dominant, even if they are excluded from the US.’
- 'China is on a track to repeat in 5G what happened with the United States in 4G.'
'The United States may choose to continue down the path of mmWave, but the rest of the world is focused on building out sub-6 infrastructure, with China in the lead.'
Also mmWave isn't as good as sub-6.
- ‘When President Trump unveiled his administration’s plan for “winning the race” to 5G earlier this month [watch his comments here], he neglected to mention that the United States is building its network using a technology that’s inferior to what the rest of the planet will likely adopt,' says Josh Rogin in the Washington Post.
- For the U.S., ‘It’s akin to building a Betamax system in a VHS world.'
‘Only in passing was it mentioned that Trump’s plan commits the United States to build out 5G infrastructure on a high-band spectrum swath known as “mmWave” (between 24 and 300 gigahertz), which is inferior in range and penetration capability to the “sub-6” (below 6 gigahertz) spectrum being used for 5G by most other countries, especially China.'
- ‘“So we are winning a race that no one else is running to build a 5G ecosystem that no one else will use” is how one administration official put it to me.’
‘“As sub-6 becomes the global standard, it is likely that China, the current leader in that space, will lead the charge,” states a report issued this month by the Defense Innovation Board,’ an advisory committee to the Department of Defense.'
- ‘That means foreign companies — especially from China — could dominate 5G business worldwide.’
- 'That would allow others to set international standards and could turn the United States into an island of relatively bad 5G service surrounded by a sea of better technology.’