Infographic: Who do readers think is winning the 5G race?

Last week, research from Deloitte placed China at the front of the pack in the race for the 5G dream, so we asked readers in a snap poll who they thought was winning.

Deloitte’s reasoning was built on the progress of network densification programmes across the country, its throwing sites up all over the place, and also future investment allocations. It seems readers agree with the consultancy as well.

We suspect the ‘someone else’ option was directed at a European nation, though considering only 6% decided to select this one, it is not looking good for the continent.

5G Leadership Infographic


China is clear leader in the 5G race – Deloitte

Consulting firm Deloitte claims China has taken pole position in the 5G race, owing to a continued focus on network infrastructure and future investments which are matched by no other nation.

While US telcos are galloping towards 5G for the bragging rights in advertising campaigns, the technology presents so much more than an ego boost for national economies. The US can partially thank its leadership position in the global economy today to the telecommunications industry and the efforts to rollout 4G. It created a test bed for innovative mobile, social, and streaming applications which have dominated revenues in the digital economy. The same prospects can be said for the 5G world, just bigger.

“The United States, Japan, and South Korea have all made significant strides toward 5G readiness, but none to the same extent as China,” the report states. “Infrastructure spend and tower density distinguish China’s leap forward and highlight the degree to which China outpaces the United States during these early stages of 5G deployment.”

The network densification project is going to be critical for every nation, and China does not seem to be waiting around. China Tower, which owns roughly 96% of macro towers, small cells, and DAS sites in China, has invested $17.7 billion in capital and added more than 350,000 sites since 2015. The company has roughly 1.9 million wireless sites, compared to approximately 200,000 across the US. Across the last three years, US tower companies and telcos added fewer sites than China Tower did in a three month period in 2017, as the company added 460 sites a day to the Chinese landscape.

While China is streaking ahead of the US in terms of network rollout, it looks like there are also several other nations who are in a more comfortable position also. In terms of the number of sites per 10,000 citizens, Deloitte estimates this number at 4.7 in the US, though this is eclipsed by China (14.1), Germany (8.7) and Japan (17.4). Looking at the average number of sites per ten square miles, US stands at 0.4, while China has 5.3, Germany has 5.1 and Japan has 15.2.

The US telcos might be bragging about getting to launch commercial 5G services first, but this means very little. Having several pockets of 5G coverage scattered over the US, focused around the cities which house telco HQs is not the same as taking a leadership position in the 5G economy. When it comes to network densification investments, a key factor for the success of the technology, China does seem to be taking the lead.

Passwords about to become a thing of the past – Deloitte

New research from Deloitte has pointed the finger at biometrics for one of the big trends of 2018 as we start to forget our passwords.

The firm estimates that 15 million UK consumers now have a smartphone that incorporates a fingerprint scanner, roughly 36% of the user base, with 79% of this group actually using it. Should the numbers prove to be accurate, the convenience and speed has seemingly overridden the fear of the new, which is usually a notable barrier for most technology to overcome. The most common biometric application, at 96%, was to unlock the phone

“Most smartphone owners use biometric authentication because it is faster and more secure than traditional methods,” said Paul Lee, Head of Research for Technology, Media and Telecoms at Deloitte. “Passwords have to be ever longer and more complex in order to be secure, which makes them hard to remember.

“For the modern day smartphone user, a quick scan of a thumb is faster and just as secure, if not more so – and fingerprints are not forgettable. We estimate that currently, globally, well over a billion devices now include a fingerprint reader.”

However, while the fingerprint has been accepted as a means to unlock features alterative biometric technologies, such as voice, facial and iris recognition, are less used. The research showed only 3% of the UK population are making use of these features. This might seem like a surprisingly low statistic, but perhaps this is one which is going to surge over the short-term. After all, the idea of biometrics has seemingly been normalised by the fingerprint scanner.

To correct this is perhaps nothing more than an education exercise from the handset manufacturers, as facial recognition is more secure than fingerprint scanners. Or maybe it is simply down to the features available on the smartphones themselves. As more phones get launched across 2018, fingerprint scanners and facial recognition software will become a standard feature, therefore by just being available they will be used more.

“By the end of 2018, it is likely that 3D facial recognition will be used more frequently than fingerprint scanners in smartphones,” said Lee. “We expect that individual usage of 3D facial recognition sensors will be over 100 times daily on average.”

For the moment this is a very basic use of the technology, mostly limited to accessing devices. There are a few companies out there who are trying to integrate biometrics into everyday activities, Vodafone is using voice recognition software as a means to identify and authenticate customers when they contact call centres, but this is still very much early days.

Deloitte is confident the technology will spread to areas such as finance before too long, but that is another hurdle which will have to be crossed. When it comes to money, people are generally very sceptical about new ideas, especially ones which haven’t been vigorously tested in other applications. Biometrics will play a strong role in finance in the near future, but there will have to be a bit more work done to convince the consumer before mass market penetration.