Mobile operators in the US are making record investments in 5G networks, positioning the US to lead the world in 5G connectivity. However, Sprint's executive chairman argued Wednesday that the US can't win the 5G race if Sprint's merger with T-Mobile doesn't go through.
"The only way the US remains the leader... is to allow the Sprint, T-Mobile merger to move forward," Marcelo Claure, executive chairman of the board of Sprint Corporation, said in a keynote address at Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Also: The race to 5G: Inside the fight for the future of mobile TechRepublic
The combined company, he said, is the only one with the "necessary spectrum assets and financial strength... to allow the US to continue its leadership position."
The new company, he said, will spend close to $40 billion over the next three years to build out its 5G network.
The mobile industry has been eagerly touting the benefits of 5G while wringing its hands over which global regions will be the first to reap those benefits. Industry leaders are urging network operators to make major infrastructure investments and pressing policymakers to create the conditions for 5G to flourish.
"Leading in 4G was critical to growing our economy and creating jobs," said Meredith Attwell Baker, president of the CTIA, the US wireless communications trade group. "Other counties see what 4G leadership has meant for America."
When it comes to 5G, she continued during the MWCA keynote, "We can't afford to lose this race."
Earlier this year, Deloitte published a report showing that China is far outpacing the US in 5G infrastructure investments. However, the GSM Association, which represents mobile network operators worldwide, published a report Wednesday asserting that Norh America will migrate to 5G at a much faster rate than comparable markets in Europe and Asia.
Also: 5G network technology: These are the basics CNET
According to the GSMA report, almost half of all mobile connections in North America are forecast to be running on 5G by 2025. That's compared to around 30 percent in Europe and key Asian markets.
By 2025, there will be 1.3 billion 5G connections worldwide, the GMSA forecasts, and the Americas region will account for 268 million.
While promising to help America lead in 5G connectivity, Claure also said Sprint and T-Mobile are committed to bringing the new company's services to rural areas.
Critics of the proposed merger have suggested the deal could leave consumers with fewer low-cost options, as well as fewer value-oriented Mobile Virtual Network Operators which lease network access from major mobile operators.
Claure insisted Wednesday, "We will deliver lower prices."
Additionally, he said the new company plans to open at least 600 new retail stores and 500 service centers in rural America, in an effort to serve "communities that need us the most."
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