The official city plan calls for the "double gigabit" for all 9 million homes in Shanghai. FTTH is everywhere. 5G will deploy to 10,000 base stations by 2020, aiming for complete city coverage. The Chinese have chosen to emphasize Mid-band 5G for gigabit peak speeds. Users will usually connect at 100-400 megabits, 4G speeds. 

The city is also planning 100 cloud data centres with 16,000 racks. They are confident of over 100 "metropolitan IoT" applications. The definition of Edge depends on whom you ask. 5G network designers expected "Edge" to be at each cell or close. No company has committed to building a network like that. Shanghai, like Deutsche Telecom, is building further from the home but inside its own core network. For clarity, I call that an Edge/core network.

Shanghai houses less than 1/50th of the Chinese population. 50 X 10,000 cells would be 500,000. Shanghai is one of the richest and most advanced cities in China. I would apply perhaps a ten times multiplier and come to a wild guess of 100,000 base stations in 2020. That would be more than the United States.  

China Mobile and China Telecom plan 2,000,000 base stations each, dwarfing all others. Analyst Joe Madden reported a 5G Chinese "Tidal wave" to make sure they would be far ahead in the silly 5G propaganda war. He based his reports on equipment orders, which usually is an accurate method.

The last official word was months ago. It included 10,000 stations for China Mobile. 

Things are accelerating but I don't know how fast. 

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network. It will soon offer a gigabit or close to 30M homes. Thousands of sites are live in Korea; AT&T is going live with mobile, even lacking phones. 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 4X 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.

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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.