Former Google CEO says US well behind China in 5G race

(Image credit: samsung)

Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt has blasted the US government for not doing more to make the country a leader in 5G, claiming that inaction in Washington had ceded the initiative to China.

5G networks promise faster speeds, greater capacity, and lower latency than previous generations of mobile technology.

These characteristics will deliver a range of consumer benefits, including superior mobile broadband, but the real potential is in industrial, defence and public service applications that could become integral to society and national economies.

5G leadership

With this in mind, 5G leadership is not just an industrial ambition, but an integral component of national strategy. China has devoted significant government resources to ensure it is at the top table, while its commercial rollout has been among the fastest in the world, while other countries have also surpassed the US

In a scathing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal co-authored by Graham Allison of Harvard University , Schmidt urged the American government to take action to address the gaps in average speed and the pace of rollout, warning that China could “own the 5G future”.

Potential remedies could include more funding for research, pro-investment policies, and ensuring operators have access to the necessary spectrum. Schmidt did concede, however, that sanctions against Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer Huawei had had some impact.

“The step up to real 5G speeds will lead to analogous breakthroughs in autonomous vehicles, virtual-reality (VR) applications like the metaverse, and other areas that have yet to be invented,” they said. “Applications abound that could advantage a country’s intelligence agencies and enhance its military capabilities.”

“The pathetic US 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.”

Although 5G is still in its infancy, the race to be a leader in 6G has already started. Research efforts are well under way in Europe, China, Japan and in North America in a bid to become a leader not just in the development of 5G applications and services, but also the technologies that will comprise global standards.

Via Wall Street Journal

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.