Press releases

China holds narrow lead in global race to 5G, report finds maintaining US wireless leadership is vital to American economy

WASHINGTON – China holds a narrow lead in overall 5G readiness ahead of South Korea and the United States, according to a new report from Analysys Mason. Underscoring the importance of America maintaining its global wireless leadership, additional research by Recon Analytics found that US 4G leadership drove significant economic benefits.

Analysys Mason ranked 10 countries on their 5G readiness. The findings show China, South Korea, the United States and Japan as the lead competitors in that order. China’s narrow lead is due to a combination of both proactive government policies and industry momentum. The study attributes the United States’ high ranking to the fact that America’s wireless industry is a global leader in preparing to deploy 5G commercially, with significant investments in these next-generation networks.

“The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO. “I’m confident that America can win and reap the significant economic benefits of 5G wireless due to our world-leading commercial investments. Today’s research highlights the importance of policymaker action in 2018 to reform local zoning rules and unlock access to mid-band spectrum as part of a broader spectrum pipeline plan. I’m optimistic we will leapfrog China because key leaders in the Administration, on Capitol Hill, and at the FCC are focused on the reforms needed to win the race.”

In evaluating the current status of the global race to 5G, Analysys Mason studied 5G spectrum and infrastructure policies as well the commercial industry plans of ten countries.

Key findings by Analysys Mason include the following.

  • All major Chinese providers have committed to specific launch dates and the government has committed to at least 100MHz of mid-band spectrum and 2000MHz of high-band spectrum for each wireless provider.
  • Countries around the world are moving quickly to make spectrum available for 5G. This year alone, the UK, Spain, and Italy are all holding 5G spectrum auctions.
  • At the end of 2018, the USA will rank sixth out of the 10 countries in mid-band (3–24GHz) spectrum availability, a critical band for 5G. The USA joins Russia and Canada as the only countries currently without announced plans to allocate mid-band spectrum on an exclusive basis to mobile by the end of 2020.
  • Countries like the UK and regions like the European Union are taking significant steps to modernise infrastructure rules to facilitate the deployment of 5G networks.


David Abecassis, Partner in Analysys Mason said, “Our research shows China with a slight lead in 5G readiness, with South Korea and the USA close behind. The USA led the world in 4G, and the US wireless industry is leading global 5G research and development with aggressive commercial 5G deployment plans that will benefit US consumers.”

To understand the potential impact that the race to 5G may have on America’s economy, Recon Analytics conducted a historical analysis of how winning and losing wireless leadership affected the economies of the USA and other nations.

“When countries lose global leadership in a generation of wireless, jobs are shed and technology innovation gets exported overseas,” said Roger Entner, Founder, Recon Analytics. “Conversely, leading the world in wireless brings significant economic benefits, as the USA has seen with its 4G leadership. These are the serious stakes that face American policymakers in the escalating global race to 5G.”

Findings from Recon Analytics include the following.

  • Winning the race to 4G boosted America’s GDP by nearly USD100 billion and our 4G launch spurred an 84% increase in wireless-related jobs – benefits that could have gone to other countries had the USA not led the world in 4G.
  • US 4G leadership helped secure leading positions in key parts of the global wireless ecosystem, including the app economy.
  • Losing wireless leadership had long-term negative effects on Japan and Europe, contributing to job losses and the contraction of their domestic wireless industries.


To highlight the implications of these reports, CTIA is hosting the Race to 5G Summit on Thursday 19 April 2018 in Washington, DC. The summit will bring together leading policymakers and technology and wireless industry executives involved in shaping America’s 5G future.

Additional resources:

About the Analysys Mason Research

This research was commissioned by CTIA. Analysys Mason compared 5G spectrum and infrastructure policies proposed in markets worldwide to advance 5G technology and facilitate successful network deployment, and to prepare a readiness comparison between markets. 

About Analysys Mason

Analysys Mason is a global consultancy and research firm specialising in telecoms, media and technology for more than 30 years. Our consulting and research expertise in telecoms, media and technology underpins everything we do to help change our clients’ businesses for the better. Since 1985, Analysys Mason's consulting and analyst teams have played an influential role in key industry milestones and helping clients around the world through major shifts in the market. Our consulting and research divisions continue to be at the forefront of developments in digital services and transformation are advising clients on new business strategies to address disruptive technologies. Our experts located in offices around the world provide local perspective on global issues.

About the Recon Analytics Research

This research was commissioned by CTIA. This is the fifth report over the last thirteen years that Recon Analytics has authored on the impact of the wireless industry on the U.S. economy. Building on the same consistent framework, these reports have documented how the U.S. wireless industry has revolutionized society and the U.S. economy, relying on extensive primary and secondary research for these studies.

About Recon Analytics The mission of Recon Analytics is to clear the clutter, help focus executives and policymakers on what is actually happening in the marketplace and what really matters, and make a positive impact on business and policy decisions. Founded and led by leading telecom analyst Roger Entner, Recon Analytics' approach is bolstered by its industry-first executive advisory board, which helps us hone our strategy, improve our research, and provide unparalleled insights into the matters most relevant to the business and the public policies impacting it. With this foundation, Recon Analytics focuses on three core areas: Syndicated research, custom consulting, policy related data analysis, as well as white papers. 

About CTIA

CTIA® (www.ctia.org) represents the US wireless communications industry and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life. The association’s members include wireless carriers, device manufacturers, suppliers as well as apps and content companies. CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices, hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and co-produces the industry’s leading wireless tradeshow. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, DC.