Eric Schmidt criticizes US 5G speed and availability
what you need to know
- The former Google CEO complained that China was ahead of the US in 5G speed and investment.
- He noted that 5G speeds from Verizon and AT&T are generally slower than 4G, and pointed to a lack of mid-band spectrum.
- The article calls on Washington to step up its efforts because it invests far less in 5G than China.
Carriers, chipmakers, and smartphone OEMs alike hailed 5G as a huge leap forward, allowing us to achieve unprecedented speeds and lower latency, unlocking new use cases and possibilities. However, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Harvard professor Graham Allison believe that is far from the case, and that 5G has fallen behind, at least in the US.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, both Schmidt and Allison noted that 5G speeds are typically slower than 4G in many large U.S. cities, citing an August 2021 PCMag speed test . Tests found T-Mobile was the only operator with a faster 5G network than 4G, likely due to its deployment of mid-band spectrum following the Sprint merger.
The article points to Verizon and AT&T’s poor 5G performance, which could result in an average mobile internet speed of just 75Mbps in the US. Schmidt and Allison pointed to an average speed of 300Mbps in China and even faster in South Korea. They also pointed to how China has become a global leader in providing 5G infrastructure despite US sanctions on Huawei.
A big reason for the lack of 5G leadership is friction between U.S. carriers and Washington, D.C. The article pointed to the recent drama between U.S. airlines and carriers as an example of Washington’s seeming “hesitant” to invest in 5G. Also a point of contention is the Innovation and Competition Act, which sets aside $1.5 billion for 5G spending in 2026. By comparison, China will spend about $100 billion on 5G over the same period.
Schmidt and Allison pointed to China’s investment in mid-band spectrum as a significant contributor to its leadership. In the US, T-Mobile, arguably the nation’s best wireless carrier, has been the leader in mid-band spectrum deployment as AT&T and Verizon spent billions to catch up.
While things appear to be improving in the U.S., Schmidt and Allison called on Washington to make 5G a priority lest “China will have a 5G future.”
You can read their article in the Wall Street Journal.