A veteran of the British wireless industry dismissed the very notion of the United States being a leader in the field of mobile communications as frivolous, asserting the world's strongest economy is "miles behind" the United Kingdom and China on the 5G front, in addition to directly accusing it of lying on a number of fronts.
In a recent interview on the subject of next-gen wireless connectivity, Scott Petty, the Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone UK, said China is the only country that's objectively ahead of the UK in terms of 5G research and development. The reason why consumers and even industry watchers aren't likely to stumble upon media coverage corroborating that state of affairs is primarily tied to the fact the stateside wireless segment is presently deeply involved in the process of repackaging old technologies as the new connectivity standard without any care for facts or reason.
"They are rebadging 4G Evolution as 5G," Mr. Petty believes.
Handicapped from the get-go
In terms of "real" 5G, the U.S. is facing multiple problems whose effects have the potential to spiral out of control in the near future, according to Vodafone's senior executive. One of the major obstacles toward nationwide 5G deployment in the country comes in the form of the spectrum American carriers have at their disposal. The vast majority of stateside 5G rollout plans that are now in motion or will soon enter their execution phase is almost exclusively dependent on the millimeter-wave spectrum, a frequency range network operators in the country had little issues acquiring but primarily because no one wants it; the reason being that it's extremely difficult to utilize.
While mmWave solutions will inevitably improve latencies, capacities, and data rates experienced by end users, they are notoriously difficult to utilize on even the smallest scales. Signals traveling on these frequencies may be more suitable for transmitting a denser volume of information but are essentially a horrible choice when it comes to anything bar short-distance travel as they're easily absorbed by everything from facades and windows to foliage and rain.
As a result, the U.S. wireless sector is basically forced to invest billions into deploying countless small cell stations, creating behemoth networks that are difficult to maintain and still geographically limited seeing how traditional towers are much more versatile when it comes to rural installation scenarios, some critics like Mr. Petty argue. On the other hand, the low-band strategy presently being pursued by T-Mobile will address the coverage issue at the expense of speeds which are unlikely to be significantly higher than what LTE can already deliver or will be able to offer once that standard is fully utilized.
No Huawei, no party?
At the same time, a new British school of thought that's presently gaining traction revolves describes U.S. claims of 5G leadership as frivolous seeing how Washington and Capitol Hill blocke the majority of Huawei's operations in their backyard, hence excluding what some are describing as the "only true 5G vendor" — as BT's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae put it in October — from the domestic 5G race. Some Huawei-made technologies are still widely rated above those from the likes of Nokia and Ericsson, yet the Scandinavian wireless sector will be the one the U.S. will rely on the most during the incoming generational shift.
At the same time, the UK is presently facing a Huawei dilemma of its own as security concerns associated with the Chinese company are becoming too big to be ignored.