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US: US now first in global 5G readiness

 |  April 4, 2019

The United States, with quick moves by government officials and telecommunications carriers, has moved to the front of the global 5G race, according to reports.

The wireless industry association CTIA released a report that said the US, in terms of readiness, deployments and spectrum allocation, is leading the transition to the new telecommunications standard. However, it does struggle in two areas: mid-band spectrum and national strategy.

Governments around the world are hurrying to deploy the technology, which is considered the next generation of wireless network standards. By the latter part of 2019, the US should have 92 commercial 5G deployments, versus south Korea’s 48, 16 in the U.K. and none in China.

The US rose from third to first in the ranks due to “quick action and visionary leadership” from policy makers, as well as the slashing of regulations and laws preventing the technology from moving forward.

Spectrum allocation, however, is a different issue. While the US leads the globe in low- and high-band spectrum allocation, which isn’t as fast but does have longer distance, the country is in the bottom for mid-band spectrum.

The US hasn’t allocated any mid-band spectrum to 5G, while Spain has allocated 360MHz and other countries like Italy, China and South Korea are slightly behind that.

However, the US has made a sharing agreement that will let carriers use some spectrum controlled by the Navy, but that means manufacturers won’t be able to sell American devices that specifically rely on mid-band frequencies.

The CTIA has made some recommendations for a national spectrum strategy for the States, including five years of auctions to allow for carriers to have more spectrum, more modern government policies for the optimization of spectrum, free market use and more competitive approaches toward handling security.

The FCC is in the process of auctioning more millimeter wave spectrum, and has been actively trying to reduce policy roadblocks to facilitate deployment. Also, lawmakers recently introduced a wireless security bill that would favor free market competition.

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