5G Race, from marketing stunt to political mileage.
Almost since 5G first grabbed the industry's attention, US telcos have been crowing about their investment in the next-generation mobile standard. And, rightly or wrongly, an impression has taken hold that America is a frontrunner in the 5G race. Only this week, a report from Arthur D. Little, a respected consultancy, ranked the US just behind South Korea in its new 5G country leadership index (see below). Other commentators point to major equipment deals for Ericsson and Nokia, and enthusiastic announcements about 5G launches, as evidence of the US position.
But it's all just marketing flimflam, according to one of the UK's top executives involved in the rollout of 5G technology. Light Reading spoke with Scott Petty, the chief technology officer of Vodafone UK, on the sidelines of a press briefing in London this week, and his verdict on claims of US 5G leadership was damning. "Only the Chinese are ahead of the UK. The US is miles behind," Petty told Light Reading. "They are making it up. They are rebadging 4G Evolution as 5G."
Source: Arthur D. Little.
This would seem like chest-thumping for the UK telecom sector were it not for the fact that US boasts have never quite made sense.
For one thing, the 5G equipment vendor that just about every non-US telecom executive thinks of as the world's best -- China's Huawei -- is effectively barred from doing business with the main US operators. Elsewhere, even telcos ripping out Huawei's equipment, or promising not to use its 5G products, rank it ahead of Ericsson and Nokia. How can a country that excludes the world's "only true 5G vendor," in the words of BT's Neil McRae, be a 5G leader?