For Ganley, the current model of how airwaves are allocated to mobile carriers is broken. At the moment, telecoms firms in the U.S. will bid for so-called spectrum through an auction process held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In other countries, the appropriate regulator will control spectrum auctions. This often leads to dominance from the larger players who have more money to spend.
The CEO said that this has killed innovation, particularly among European firms that led the previous generations of mobile technology.
"Because of the way spectrum was allocated, we adopted the top-down model in a way we haven't done since feudalism. We recreated a top-down structure now that has become an absolutely critical part of our economy," Ganley said.
He added that this model suits the Chinese because of the top-down nature of the world's second-largest economy. In the auction model, U.S. firms are competing heavily against each other to win customers. This hits their profits and therefore their ability to invest in innovation. In China, however, where there are only two or three major state-run networks dominating the market, this model is very fitting. They can continue to operate and invest because of backing by the Chinese government. This could allow them to get ahead of the U.S. telecoms companies which may struggle to compete when it comes to rolling out 5G.
Ganley said that while many European and U.S. telecoms companies could die, China could prop their domestic players up for several years. That's why he, and his company Rivada Networks, advocate a wholesale model for allocating spectrum, similar to how the electricity market works.
The model would theoretically allow more players to bid for spectrum as and when it is needed to meet demand and this would lead to more dynamic pricing.
"What we need to do is completely flip the table," Ganley said, adding that this would allow the U.S. to get ahead of China in 5G.
Interestingly, the Trump administration has hinted toward such a policy. Kelsey Guyselman, policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at a recent event that the government recognizes that "sharing" spectrum could be a way to roll-out the next generation of mobile network, hinting toward a wholesale model.
And it's clear that the upper echelons of the Trump administration are thinking about a wholesale market model for 5G. Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, tweeted last month that he thinks this is the way forward.
Ganley said that the race for 5G is moving quickly and the U.S. needs to introduce a wholesale model or risk losing to the Chinese.
"We are 13 months away from really failing," Ganley told CNBC.
Not all experts are convinced however that a wholesale spectrum model could live up to the hype.
"I think while it’s a good idea the jury is still out on whether it will achieve the goals that have been articulated and some of that is routed in the idea that many of the major players involved in 5G are still seeking out those really lucrative 5G business cases," Shaun Collins, CEO of technology, media and telecoms analyst firm CCS Insight, told CNBC by phone earlier this week.