China spent $24b more than US on 5G since 2015

08 Aug 2018

China is significantly outpacing the US in terms of spending on the infrastructure necessary to ensure 5G readiness, according to a new study by Deloitte.

The study found that since 2015, China has outspent the US on investments critical to 5G by around $24 billion.

China built around 350,000 new cell sites over this period, compared to fewer than 30,000 for the US.

Infrastructure joint venture China Tower added around 460 sites per day in 2017, suggesting that US tower companies and operators added fewer sites in the last three years than China Tower added in three months.

There are now 14.1 cell sites per 10,000 people in China, and 5.3 sites per 10 square miles. In Japan, these figures are even greater at 17.4 sites per 10,000 people and 15.2 sites per 10 square miles. This compares to just 4.7 sites per 10,000 people and 0.4 sites per 10 square miles in the US.

In addition, China has allocated $400 billion towards 5G-related investments in its five-year economic plan. According to the report, this suggests that China and other countries “may be creating a 5G tsunami, making it near impossible [for the US] to catch up.”

The report concludes that even normalizing China's larger population, China has overspent the US in wireless infrastructure by around $8 billion to $10 billion per year since 2015.

“The potential negative consequences of a protracted 5G deployment could take decades to overcome, and other countries are already making their moves,” Deloitte said in the report.

“Policy makers, carriers, and industries with the most at stake should move now to help streamline policies and processes and collaborate with ecosystem players to help create efficient solutions to investment barriers.”

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