Now that nearly everyone in the developed world has smartphones, data growth is falling dramatically. The trend has been down for several years. Cisco sees growth in Asia-Pacific falling to 37% and Latin America to 34% by 2022. Folks who make business decisions on the assumption of high growth will be disappointed.

Since the technology is improving at something like 40% per year, that means either excess capacity or capex cuts. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network in the world and cut capital spending in 2018. Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, and Orange/FT have all told investors that capex will be flat to down as they build 5G networks.

The developing world continues remarkable growth, especially in India. Cisco's estimate for Middle East and Africa is 48% for 2022. As smartphones approach saturation, growth will slow. 

The only thing visible that could bring traffic growth back up is fixed wireless like Verizon. That would bring with it additional revenues that would more than cover the cost of any needed network upgrades. AR/VR/SR could take off, but I expect it will ramp at a reasonable rate.

Mobile growth percentage peaked first as people bought smartphones. There was a lesser peak as Netflix became more popular and speeds went up for video. 

Nokia's North American CTO Mike Murphy sees growth going up to 50% and remaining at that level. That disagrees with Cisco, CTIA, & AT&T. His article Tick-Tock, or Why 5G Must Happen Soon in the US, assumes 50% growth. He also implies that AT&T and Verizon lied when they told Wall Street 50% of their spectrum was unused in 2017.

More surprising, Mike asserts that SON and other techniques to minimize interference between cells doesn't work very well or at all. "Densification unfortunately can result in unwanted interference if applied more so than has already been done in the same frequencies, and so we expect its use to be limited."

Nokia salesman are telling customers their system does a good job of mitigating interference. Those customers are planning tens of thousands of small cells, Telus CTO Ibrahim Gedeon tells me most of the small cell problems had been solved and he was building them aggressively.  I believe Huawei is supplying Telus but I doubt Nokia is so far behind. Nokia Shanghai Bell is supplying hundreds of thousands of radios to Chinese carriers, where the population and network density is much higher.

Perhaps a marketing person who didn't know the above wrote the Light Reading article that went out over Mike's name and no network person checked it. 

(I sent the key points above to Nokia to fact check and haven't received any data to the contrary.)


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.