The race for 5G wireless technology is launched. A report reveals that Americans could have a quick lead.

Huawei's "Balong 5000" chip for 5G devices. (Giulia Marchi / Bloomberg News)

US makers continue to compete for competition with China to build the world's first mass-market 5G wireless network. But a new Cisco report might offer reasons to breathe better for the moment.

According to Cisco, by 2022, fifth generation cellular networks will power up to 9% of mobile data connections in North America, compared with 4% in Asia. The new projections were unveiled Tuesday as part of Cisco's annual report, Visual Networking Index, which looks at industry trends.

The report highlights the considerable work that countries like China face when they seek to outperform Western countries. And this reflects US policies that place the US in a strong position to lead, said Cisco, which manufactures a network technology.

Proponents say 5G will offer faster download speeds than many households get on their home Internet connections. And, they say, the reliability of 5G will unlock new features such as autonomous cars, telemedicine and a thriving ecosystem of smart devices requiring constant connection.

Although the Asia-Pacific region has more than twice as many 5G devices as North America by 2022, 5G connections will account for a tiny share of mobile devices in this region, according to Cisco. 5G connections will account for a larger share of mobile devices in Western Europe, about 6.5%.

Tuesday marks the first time Cisco has dedicated an entire section of its mobile report to 5G technology.

"The United States has begun to change its policies to support the deployment of 5G, and as we look at the rest of the world, policy changes of the kind we have seen in the United States have not occurred. are not produced yet, "said Mary. Brown, senior director of government affairs at Cisco. "We expect this to change over the next 12 to 18 months, so the 5G race is very real."

According to policy analysts, a head start in 5G penetration may be critical in determining which countries will shape and benefit from key innovations in applications, services and other economic benefits of technology. When the United States took the lead in 4G mobile technology, it spawned the application economy, which remains dominated by US companies today, Brown said.

"The stakes with 5G are even more important," she said.

For now, a real 5G experience remains inaccessible to the average consumer. The first 5G smartphones are only expected later this year; In the meantime, carriers such as AT & T and Verizon have embarked on a marketing war to convince their customers that they are making rapid progress (although AT & T has recently been sued for some of its promotional activities).

Telecom executives, as well as many federal officials, have cited intense competition from global competitors to accelerate the spread of 5G in the US with deregulation and pro-industry policies.

"US leadership in 5G technology is a national imperative for economic growth and competitiveness," said Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, at a summit in the White House on topic last year. "We can not leave the paperwork of today strangling the future of 5G."

Last year, in an effort to lubricate processes at the local level, the FCC decided to limit the price that cities could charge telecommunication companies for the use of utility poles and impose decisions. faster on infrastructure permits.

The plan was favorably received by industry groups as a crucial step towards building 5G but was bombarded by critics who said it amounted to massive aid provided by companies.

"This effectively transfers $ 2 billion from cities to carriers," Blair Levin, a former FAC chief of staff, wrote in a blog post last week. "In exchange, the FCC does not ask the carriers anything."

The security of corporate network equipment such as Huawei in China, which the Trump administration should target with a possible decree, further complicates the situation. In another move, the FCC proposed to limit federal funding to US telecommunications companies that use Huawei's equipment. Policymakers fear that foreign manufacturers could secretly install spyware in their products, which would allow other governments to listen to sensitive communications from the United States. The founder of Huawei rejected these claims Tuesday in an interview with CBS.

Uncertainty over US infrastructure policy, Washington's position vis-à-vis foreign companies and the details of 5G technology that are still being developed could lead to delays.

"We expect that some large-scale 5G commercial deployments may not be completed before the current forecast period (after 2022)," Cisco said in its report.

But even after taking these factors into account, North America will be ahead of the competition in 5G penetration by 2022, Cisco said.

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