In the race to 5G, does it matter who wins?
WASHINGTON, D.C.–There has been a great deal of debate over which country is winning, or will win, the global race to 5G. But does it matter who is first in 5G?
That was one of the questions tackled during discussions at this week’s DC5G event, addressed by a number of participants.
“The race is a great metaphor,” said Dean Brenner, SVP of spectrum strategy and technology policy for Qualcomm. “There is tremendous interest in 5G all over the world. It’s certainly true that no country, no region wants to be left behind, because they see the tremendous economic value that 5G can generate.” He added that Qualcomm has estimated the global value of 5G at around $12 trillion in economic benefits.
However, Brenner said, despite the value of the 5G race as a metaphor, “I don’t think you can say with precision this country is in ‘X’ place in this race … and I don’t think that’s a really helpful way to look at it.” He went on to say that support for 5G technology is an issue with bipartisan support and that contributes to the U.S. being in a “strong position”, although he added that “we have a lot of work to do.”
“It’s all about the economics, and the impact,” said Bruno Fromont, SVP for strategy and asset management for Intelsat. “5G is really an enabler of GDP improvements across the world. From that perspective … the stakes are very high” because of the promise of 5G to have widespread impacts on not only consumers, but businesses and in particular, manufacturing and secure production capabilities.
Another aspect of the race to 5G was the question of how a country can move faster to an advantageous position.
“From a regulatory standpoint, compared to other countries in the developed world, the U.S. has a lot of challenges, both with our sheer size and the amount of ground we have to cover,” said Bob Ritter, senior government relations counsel for small cell and fiber solutions at Crown Castle. He added that the U.S.’ federal structure, with 50 states and thousands of local governments, is another challenge to 5G deployment.
“But I think as we stand right now, those government agencies are taking a leadership position and putting us in a good place to deploy 5G,” he added, noting recent Federal Communications Commission actions, as well as state-level movement in 21 states to streamline small cell deployment processes. Ritter said that while a tie for first in 5G is “probably not as much of a concern,” the worry is falling behind, because 5G is expected to help increase economic productivity and that can impact the macro-economic environment, as well as the ability to gain investment and economies of scale.
Trevor Smith, VP of global strategy and business development at CommScope, talked about four forces that will impact the speed and the rate at which 5G networks can be deployed: consumer demand for services; competition between multiple entities to deploy 5G; the business case and whether companies can make money; and a regulatory environment that “promotes, or at least doesn’t prohibit the deployment.”
Watch an excerpt from the panel discussion below: