American carriers, barring T-Mobile, have been conspicuously slow with their 5G rollout. This could be due to factors like spectrum allocation or other legitimate reasons. Now, the 5G situation in the U.S. has drawn the ire of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Writing for The Wall Street Journal (via Android Central), Schmidt cited an August 2021 speed test by PCMag to point out that 5G speeds in several U.S. cities are comparable to 4G LTE. The speed test found that only T-Mobile managed to offer better 5G speeds than 4G. This is likely due to its quick rollout of the mid-band 5G network across the country. The WSJ article is co-authored by Harvard professor Graham Allison.
Schmidt and Allison reserve most of the criticism for AT&T and Verizon, which are major contributors to the nationwide average speed of 75Mbps. By comparison, China offers an average internet speed of 300Mbps, while South Korea is even better, they said.
“The pathetic U.S. performance in the 5G race is a sign of America’s larger failure to keep up with China on strategically important technologies. China is also ahead of America in high-tech manufacturing, green energy and many applications of artificial intelligence,” Schmidt and Allison wrote.
Schmidt and Allison want the U.S. government to take 5G infrastructure more seriously
Allison and Schmidt further said that the U.S. is at the risk of surrendering 5G leadership to China. They urged Washington to prioritize 5G. The article also digs into the Innovation and Competition Act which has only kept aside $1.5 billion for 5G spending through 2026. By stark contrast, China is expected to spend close to $100 billion on 5G in the same time frame.
2022 could be a crucial year for carriers like Verizon and AT&T as they continue to play catch up with T-Mobile. However, T-Mobile’s 5G crown could topple this year with the accelerated rollout of the C-Band spectrum.
Verizon’s Ultra Wideband (UW) network includes both C-Band and mmWave. Several new areas are receiving support for UW across the U.S. So the numbers could be significantly better as we progress through the year. T-Mobile, meanwhile, remains the best 5G network in the U.S., courtesy of its mid-band 5G network.