ITU FG 2030 logo 230ITU IMT 2020 defined 5G. FG 2030 is an open group, free to all. At the first meeting last week, I moved forward a draft proposal that EMBB - Enhanced Mobile Broadband - be designed to make broadband available to all. The EMBB problem was addressed but wasn't adequately solved in 5G. (Some  of) the performance is being achieved by 5G but not at a cost affordable to half the world. My thoughts were treated respectfully and several encouraged me to attend the next meeting in Hong Kong in December. There's an active mailing list and ITU believes in remote participation.

All you have to do is go to and find the mailing list information in the lower right. You may need to register for an ITU TIES guest account, but it's free. 

If you are respectful and have relevant points to make, you will be welcome. Like any group, you're most effective if you understand the way people are accustomed to working. I will be happy to point people to the right information and help understand the systems. The Chair, Dr. Richard Li, and the staff treated me graciously.

Much of the discussion is about advanced topics like the latency needed to deliver holograms, but I was welcomed by the group on "use cases." Delegates from India and Brazil supported, and the leaders of the group helped me understand how to shape my ideas into the right form. 

Like most standards groups, including IETF, Corporations in Europe, the U.S., China, Japan, and Korea were represented. Very few came from other countries, although more than half of Internet users are in the developing world. That should change. Only about 15% were women, who appeared to be treated with respect. 

Why I said (some of) the performance: IMT 2020 specified 5G would have gigabit speeds and latency of 1 ms. With the exception of Verizon mmWave, the announced deployments of 5G will be a third the speed and ~10 ms latency. They will run of 4G hardware with a minor software tweak, 5G NR, that adds only a modest amount to capacity. Under pressure from the marketing people, 3GPP redefined 5G to include just about everything shipping, as long as they ran the Qualcomm software. Pure hype, but its too late to fight. The battle is over.

I didn't go to the meeting looking to have an impact. Standards groups have first rate engineers at the forefront of the field. I knew I would learn a great deal when I discovered the meeting was here in New York. Thinking about what I could bring to the meeting, I wrote 

Sustainable DevelopmentPrepared for the ITU Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030. Technology plans should be designed to advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Will the design produce robust infrastructure, everywhere?  Will the proposed networks be affordable for all? What will be the requirements for investment and are they realistic for developing nations? What is the impact on competition and the resulting effect on consumer costs?

People more qualified than I will be discussing possibilities like terahertz spectrum and microscopic antennae. What I want to do is put some questions on the table crucial to the cost of access and deploying everywhere. These are questions, not conclusive opinions. The groups making standards very rarely have considered the requirements of the developing world, which include low costs and simple deployment. More


FG NET-2030

"Network 2030: A pointer to the new horizon for the future digital society and networks in the year 2030 and thereafter." – Dr Richard Li, FG NET-2030 chairman

The ITU-T Focus Group Technologies for Network 2030 (FG NET-2030) was established by ITU-T Study Group 13 at its meeting in Geneva, 16-27 July 2018.

The Focus Group, intends to study the capabilities of networks for the year 2030 and beyond, when it is expected to support novel forward-looking scenarios, such as holographic type communications, extremely fast response in critical situations and high-precision communication demands of emerging market verticals. The study aims to answer specific questions on what kinds of network architecture and the enabling mechanisms are suitable for such novel scenarios.

The study is collectively called ‘Network 2030’. It will be further realized by the exploration of new communication mechanisms from a broad perspective and is not restricted by existing notions of network paradigms or to any particular existing technologies. Network 2030 may be built upon a new or refined network architecture to carry information in a manner that may evolve from, or is quite different from today’s networks. Regardless, Network 2030 based systems shall ensure they remain fully backward compatible, supporting both existing and new applications.

The FG NET-2030, as a platform to study and advance international networking technologies, will investigate the future network architecture, requirements, use cases, and capabilities of the networks for the year 2030 and beyond. 
The objectives include: 
• To study, review and survey existing technologies, platforms, and standards for identifying the gaps and challenges towards Network 2030, which are not supported by the existing and near future networks like 5G/IMT-2020.
• To formulate all aspects of Network 2030, including vision, requirements, architecture, novel use cases, evaluation methodology, and so forth.
• To provide guidelines for standardization roadmap.
• To establish liaisons and relationships with other SDOs.

Participation in FG NET-2030 is free of charge and open to all. To receive updates and announcements related to this group, please subscribe to the FG NET-2030 mailing list (see the "FG NET-2030 Mailing lists" tab on the right of this page).

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 


 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.