The 5G challenges the next White House will inherit


U.S. carriers don’t have the right airwaves or network architecture for widespread 5G use just yet.


11/06/2020 09:00 AM EST

The buzz about super-fast 5G wireless service has been building in the U.S. for years. The next White House now stands poised to deliver — at a time when U.S. rivals are also scrambling to light up this next-gen cellular service.

Right now, most Americans have never experienced the eye-popping speeds that big wireless carriers have spent years hyping, promising service that is 100 times faster than 4G speeds. Apple just unveiled its first 5G-capable iPhones in time for holiday shopping. But while CEO Tim Cook played up the big speeds as he stood alongside Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, the new iPhone’s reviews already state the obvious: 5G isn’t the real selling point.

U.S. carriers don’t have the right airwaves or network architecture to really allow for widespread, robust 5G use just yet, which will be a pressing challenge for whoever occupies the White House — especially as China bursts into the lead in the so-called race to 5G.

“China has cemented its position as a global leader in 5G,” wireless trade group GSMA recently declared, noting that China likely accounts for 70 percent of global 5G connections this year.

Joe Biden may be positioned to change that, should the Democrat win the White House, picking up where President Donald Trump left off. Even in divided government, 5G could prove a source of rare bipartisan unity.

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