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5G networks

China and US tied atop global 5G leaderboard

Study finds two powers hold edge despite South Korea's early rollout

China and the U.S. are neck and neck when it comes to building 5G networks.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China and the U.S. are better prepared for the 5G mobile era than any other country, even though South Korea is about to become the first to launch the superfast communications services this week, a new survey shows.

The world's two largest economies shared first place in a ranking of 5G readiness released on Tuesday by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, a U.S. industry group. They were followed by South Korea, Japan and the U.K.

In China, commercial 5G services are not expected to start until 2020, but the country is leading the way in terms of building infrastructure. With strong government support, the country has been installing base stations to build up a vast 5G network. One study found China has more than 14 wireless base stations per 10,000 people, compared with 4.7 in the U.S.

But the U.S. climbed to the top of the ranking, from third place last year, thanks to more investment from carriers as well as government moves to allocate more spectrum.

"Reforms that have been made to make it easier to deploy mobile infrastructure have given the U.S. a leading position," said Jannette Stewart, principal at Analysys Mason, which complies the survey.

South Korea dropped to third, from second, despite carriers' head start with offering 5G access. The nation's three leading operators will open the network to users of Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S10 5G smartphones on Friday.

Buoyed in part by the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, South Korea had been leading the development of 5G, pushing early investment, research and trials in the private sector.

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