Calix GigaSpire 230Dan Mondor, quoted, is CEO of Inseego, a US$200 million IoT specialist. Inseego sells a high-end Wi-Fi router to Verizon for the 5G network and works closely with Verizon. Even he couldn't think of any volume applications today that needed 5G. He expects that future applications will change that.

Shane Eleniak is a Senior Vice President at Calix. His NG-PON2 and AXOS software are crucial to Verizon's 5G network. Their state-of-the-art GigaSpire Wi-Fi 6 router (pictured) has exceptional reach and even talks to you through Alexa. He confirmed to me that today's 4G can meet all present needs, unless there is an overall shortage of capacity.  

Connected cars, remote surgery, and AR/VR/gaming are often cited as future demand-drivers. All are likely years away from having a large impact.

Respected analyst Linley Gwennapp believes claims that connected cars must have 5G are "Ridiculous. ... There will be lots of areas with no 5G network coverage and if my car is on Verizon and yours is on AT&T the connection isn’t going to be instantaneous anyway." I note thousands of autonomous cars are active today. There will probably be millions on the road before 5G is widespread.

Until Edge networks are widespread, AR/VR and gaming latency will include the connection to the cloud servers, so will always be slower than the ~10 milliseconds of the likely 5G networks. In addition, very few people will have 5G connections for years. A game designer would lose most of her audience if a game is based on 5G speeds. Gamers will enjoy the snappiness of 5G, so there is potential here. I'd suggest the best way to drive demand for low latency will be to persuade gaming companies to build dedicated editions for 5G. Gaming giant Tencent was persuaded by the government to invest in China Unicom. That would be a natural match.

Very few surgeons operate from the beach, where 5G latency would make a difference. Nearly always they will work where there is a landline, often a medical facility with a high-speed fibre connection. In that case, 5G speeds are irrelevant.

Surgeons on the beach?  

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. 

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 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.