A new report commissioned by CTIA found the US pulled even with China in terms of 5G readiness, but warned the former needs a national strategy and more mid-band spectrum to retain its joint leadership position.

While the study, conducted by Analysys Mason, concluded the US leads on high- and low-band spectrum availability, it flagged mid-band as a key weakness. It determined other countries have plans to make four-times more mid-band spectrum available than the US by the end of 2020.

Specifically, it recommended that action to open the 3.7GHz band for wireless use “should be the administration’s primary spectrum initiative this year”, calling the frequency “key to US mid-band policy”.

In 2018, Analysys Mason ranked the US third behind China and South Korea on 5G preparedness. But a fresh examination found China and the US are now tied, and the US is expected to eke out a lead with 92 commercial 5G deployments by the end of this year, compared with 48 in South Korea and 16 in the UK.

CTIA chief Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement the country has made “impressive strides” thanks to quick action by government officials and the Federal Communications Commission. However, she cautioned against complacency.

“We must redouble our efforts to combat the 5G ambitions and investments by China and others,” she said.

Though initiatives to open low-, mid- and mmWave bands for wireless use are underway, CTIA called on the US to adopt a national 5G spectrum strategy. This should include a five-year schedule of auctions; modernisation of government policies to ensure efficient use; and policies preserving exclusive licensing and flexible use rights.