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October 14, 2020

The U.S. Hits a Major 5G Milestone: Three Nationwide 5G Networks .

The U.S. Hits a Major 5G Milestone: Three Nationwide 5G Networks


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Tom Sawanobori
Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

This week marks a huge milestone for U.S. 5G efforts: AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon now all offer nationwide 5G networks, each of which covers at least 200 million Americans. This is simply remarkable progress to deploy 5G across the country and a proof point of U.S. 5G leadership.

Our 5G progress is not just the scope, it’s about the speed as well. From the first 5G deployment in late 2018, we’ve hit this nationwide achievement in just two years. With 4G, it took several years to offer nationwide coverage from multiple providers.

Now, from West Palm Beach, FL, to West Hollywood, CA, and thousands of communities in between, 5G networks are up and running, thanks to national and regional providers alike.

For instance, CGI launched 5G in Anchorage in April. And U.S. Cellular turned on 5G in cities and towns throughout Iowa and Wisconsin beginning in March, followed by launches in Maine and North Carolina in September, with more to come this year.

U.S. operators—and their network supplier partners, including Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung—did this all while managing their networks to handle COVID-related increases and shifts in demand without missing a beat on speeds and capacity.

This U.S. wireless success story is due to its private sector approach, which has driven unrivaled investment spurred on by free-market competition.

Thanks to $100+ billion in private capital invested in the past few years, U.S. 5G networks already cover hundreds of millions of Americans and one operator has committed to soon serve over 90% of rural Americans.

Last year alone, providers invested $29.1 billion in capital expenditures. The U.S. represents only 4.5% of the world’s population, but accounts for 18% of the world’s total mobile capex.

Each of the nation’s big three service providers has increased their capital spending in the name of 5G this year—Verizon increased their capex by half a billion dollars in 2020, AT&T invested an additional $1 billion in new 5G spectrum, and T-Mobile upped their second quarter capex by 26% from last year.

This commitment to investing in our wireless future is in part because of the extremely competitive nature of this industry—to be first, to be best, and to win over consumers. We saw the benefits of this competitive wireless marketplace explode during the 4G decade. Mobile broadband is 31 times faster than it was a decade ago, data traffic is up 96 times, and consumers are saving $130 billion each year.

Competition-based choices have meant more affordable wireless packages—often with unlimited data—for consumers. And in turn, more Americans are streaming more video content and using their devices to find jobs and connect with their healthcare providers, prompting more investment to meet consumer demand.

And it’s not just providers that are working hard to offer more 5G products and services. Today, 5G smartphones are available from Samsung, Apple, Motorola, LG and others—with chipsets from companies like Qualcomm. There are several options for 5G hotspots and fixed wireless devices. And that’s only the beginning—companies like Intel are enabling 5G’s power and potential, including through innovations in smart city technologies, AR/VR, manufacturing, health care, connected and autonomous vehicles and education.

Investment dollar by investment dollar, cell site by cell site, America’s wireless industry is bringing the benefits of 5G mobile broadband to communities across America, creating jobs, powering economic growth and enabling innovations that make our lives better. And all at a time where we’re seeing firsthand the benefits of this type of connectivity, and the opportunities it enables.

With this week’s developments, it’s clear that America is well on its way to becoming the world’s 5G-powered innovation hub. And that’s something worth celebrating.

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