The US is at risk of losing its technology leadership position as it falls behind China in the race toward 5G deployment, a new report from Deloitte found.

Despite the global technology clout that the US has the potential to lose if bested by China, it could also miss out on potential economic benefits that come with adding billions of devices to a 5G network, according to a press release.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

The report found that since 2015, China has outspent the US by $24 billion total. In that same time frame, China built 350,000 cell tower sites, well above the US which built fewer than 30,000. In just three months of 2017, according to a Reuters report, China had built more cell tower companies and carriers than the US had in the three previous years.

China plans to invest a total of $400 billion in 5G within the next five years. The cost of the equipment necessary to add carriers to 5G, however, is about 35% cheaper in China than in the US, the report noted. This means that the US would need to spend up to 2.67 times the amount that China spends to generate the same amount of network capacity.

Another report dubbed China’s lead in the 5G race the “China Surge” and noted that China has the potential to lead through 2021.

Deloitte noted that adoption of 5G technology in the communications infrastructure is becoming increasingly critical. If the US is unable to keep pace, it risks losing the macro-economic leadership it gained in the previous wireless investment era.

Lagging 5G technology could hold businesses back from reaping great benefits such as expanded mobile initiatives, large-scale IoT projects, and enhanced mission-critical services. It is important to note that total 5G adoption won’t be immediate and will require new technologies, but business leaders can expect their digital models to change as 5G becomes common place.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • The US is at risk of losing its technology leadership position if it fails to keep up with China’s increasing investments in 5G according to a report from Deloitte.
  • 5G deployment costs are 35% cheaper, according to Deloitte, making it easier for the country to stay ahead in the race for next-gen networking.