People per cell siteChengliang Zhang's keynote at OFC revealed that China Telecom will build ~2M base stations (doubling) for a national network at 3.5 GHz. Most will be built between 2020 and 2025. A bigger telecom story is hard to imagine, but only the great Ray Le Maistre caught it. Thank you Ray.

Currently, CT uses 1.16M 4G cells for China's population of 1.379B, or about 1,200 people per cell today. In 2015, CT was at about 1,700 people per cell. That was about equal to Spain and Korea and three times fewer than AT&T or Verizon.  (Chart)

("5G" at 3.5 GHz, of course, has performance like LTE, not 5G millimeter wave. It's 70-90% slower than mmWave, the original 5G. Latency isn't even close to the highly touted 1 ms. Many of us used to call 3.5 Fake 5G, but 3GPP has now accepted it.)

Much of Chengliang's talk was about the new optical backbone they are building for capacity and speed. They are using 25G Ethernet for the edge rather than the NG-PON2 at Verizon. everything will be optical, fast, and almost failsafe.

His goal is to have 90% of China within 30 ms of a CT server. China does not impose Net Neutrality and the system is designed to place almost everything on local servers controlled by the telco. This is the wet dream of most telcos around the world but so far never achieved.

The telco NGMN CTO's have a 20 year roadmap with the same goal: Everything through the telcos.



dave askAugust 2018 Verizon's $20B 5G build is starting to add customers in 2018. Gigabit LTE & Massive MIMO became real in 2017 and enow expanding worldwide. Almost all the other "5G" is mid-band, 70%-90% slower + hype. Europe is mostly pr. The term 5G has been bastardized, unfortunately.

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor. I always want to hear from you, especially if you catch a mistake.


 5G Why Verizon thinks differently and what to do about it is a new report I wrote for STL Partners and their clients.

STL Partners, a British consulting outfit I respect, commissioned me to ask why. That report is now out. If you're a client, download it here. If not, and corporate priced research is interesting to you, ask me to introduce you to one of the principals.

It was fascinating work because the answers aren't obvious. Lowell McAdam's company is spending $20B to cover 30M+ homes in the first stage. The progress in low & mid-band, both "4G" and "5G," has been remarkable. In most territories, millimeter wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.

McAdam sees a little further. mmWave has 3-4X the capacity of low and mid-band. He sees an enormous marketing advantage: unlimited services, even less congestion, reputation as the best network. Verizon testing found mmWave rate/reach was twice what had been estimated. All prior cost estimates need revision.

My take: even if mmWave doesn't fit in your current budget, telcos should expand trials and training to be ready as things change. The new cost estimates may be low enough to change your mind.