4 versus 3 operators 2013 2016 230Good data. suggestive if not definitive. Pal Zarandy at Rewheel offers four years of data comparing 8 European companies. I believe at least 10-15% relative increase is highly likely.

His conclusion: Gigabyte prices in 4 to 3 consolidated German and Austrian markets have fallen considerably behind the Netherlands and other 4-MNO European markets. 

Compared to a control group of six countries with four primary operators, German and Austrian prices almost doubled. (Denmark, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden, UK.) Austria went from 30% less expensive than the control group to 74% more. Germany went from 60% more expensive to almost triple the control group.

Larger chart below.

Wall Street analysts are exceedingly skeptical the deal will go down and be approved. Top analyst Craig Moffett estimates the chances are 40%; a team at Goldman did not offer a figure but was even more pessimistic. But Sprint's stock jumped 18% in one day when WSJ reported discussions. Masa-san and Legere are ready to risk $billions that the deal will go through.

Evidence-based analysis

I strongly agree that the merger would result in higher prices, My job as a reporter is to overcome my bias, so I looked at this one especially closely.  Zarandy and colleague Antonios Drossos have earned my respect for their work. They did an honest job here and their work is better than 90% of what is submitted as "proof" at the FCC, for example.

But on the difference between 3 & 4 networks, there simply isn't enough available data to "prove" anything to a statistician. If you haven't read Why Most Published Research Findings Are False by John Ioannidis of Stanford, follow the link and then come back. I always knew much of Economics was unsound, but Ioannidis in 2005 looked at the top medical journals and demonstrated that even in medicine the majority of the conclusions were not supported adequately by data. Evidence-based medicine has improved things since then; almost nobody applies the same standards in policy.

Ioannidis-quality work would eliminate confounding variables, Were the control group lower because Xavier Niel in France is so committed to lower prices? Is Netherlands low because Deutsche Telekom is #4 and they needed to be aggressive to raise market share? Xavi, because of who he is, has brought down French wireless prices remarkably. Jennie bought a 100 gigabyte SIM in Paris for twenty euros. Adjusting for that would make for a smaller but still substantial cost difference.

Two of the U.S. "studies" on Net Neutrality and regulation were worthless, unless you believe AT&T has a time machine. Before anyone in D.C. expected the NN decision, AT&T had told Wall Street they were going to cut investment because the LTE build was mostly finished. Bob Hahn used the drop in investment at AT&T as evidence NN reduced investment. That implies Randall Stephenson could go back in time and bring NN into his thinking.

Similarly, Christopher Yoo claimed that weak U.S. regulation after 2001 was why the U.S. has more higher speed availability than Europe.  The U.S. has 96% cable coverage, nearly all of which had converted to DOCSIS 3 because it was so cheap. (NY Times had a $20 cost figure but that's a little low.) Europe has something like 50% cable coverage. Most of the DSL for the other half was relatively slow.  That's a much more likely explanation. Yoo should have adjusted for cable coverage.

Regulation after 2001 wasn't the primary cause because the U.S. was already ~96% cable in 1998. Whether the regulator was weak, strong, incompetent, or non-existent, the U.S. would be far ahead because of the cable coverage from 1998 on.

To my dismay, FCC Chairman Pai cited Yoo (a good scholar even if he got this wrong)  and Hahn.

There's a lot more to say about evidenced-based policy but I don't have the time to write the book right now.

4 versus 3 operators 2013 2016 650

dave ask


The 3.3-4.2 spectrum should be shared, not exclusively used by one company, concludes an important U.S. Defense Innovation Board report. If more wireless broadband is important, sharing is of course right because shared networks can yield far more

It does work! Verizon's mmWave tests over a gigabit in the real world. 
The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro outclasses the best Apples and probably the new Galaxy 10 or Huawei P30 Pro. Optical zoom, three cameras, liquid cooling, Qualcomm 855 and more.
Korea at 400,000 5G May 15. Chinese "pre-commercial" signing customers, 60,000-120,000 base stations in 2019, million+ remarkable soon. 
5G phones Huawei Mate 20, Samsung Galaxy 10, ZTE Nubia, LG V50, and OPPO are all on sale at China Unicom. All cost US$1,000 to 1,500 before subsidy. Xiaomi promises US$600.
Natural monopoly? Vodafone & Telecom Italia to share 5G, invite all other companies to join.
Huawei predicts 5G phones for US$200 in 2021, $300 even earlier
NY Times says "5G is dangerous" is a Russian plot. Really.
Althiostar raised US$114 million for a virtual RAN system in the cloud. Rakuten, Japan's new #4, is using it and invested.
Ireland is proposing a US$3 billion subsidy for rural fibre that will be much too expensive. Politics.
Telefonica Brazil has 9M FTTH homes passed and will add 6M more within two years. Adjusted for population, that's more than the U.S. The CEO publicly urged other carriers to raise prices together.
CableLabs and Cisco have developed Low Latency XHaul (LLX) with 5-15 ms latency for 5G backhaul,  U.S. cable is soon to come in very strong in wireless. Details 
Korea Telecom won 100,000 5G customers in the first month. SK & LG added 150,000 more. KT has 37,500 cells. planning 90% of the country by yearend. 
The Chinese giants expect 60,000 to 90,000 5G cells by the end of 2019.
China Telecom's Yang Xin warns, "Real large-scale deployment of operators' edge computing may be after 2021." Customers are hard to find.
Reliance Jio registered 97.5% 4G availability across India in Open Signal testing. Best in world.

More newsfeed


Welcome On Oct 1, 2019 Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual early results have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while reducing capex. Deutsche Telekom and Orange/France Telecom also confirm they won't raise capex.

Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 3X to 7X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM, and other tools double and triple that. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year.

Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less.  I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

Believe it or not, 80% of 5G (mid-band) for several years will be slower than good 4G, which is more developed.