Sometime between October 2019 and October 2020, China will have the largest 5G network in the world. The three giants - Mobile, Telecom, & Unicom - will rapidly deploy 1,000,000 base stations each, probably by 2021 or 2022. They will keep going, possibly past 2,000,000. Consumer speeds will mostly be 100-700 meg down. That's already decided and carriers are publicly committed. The three companies are negotiating sharing towers, radios, and even backhaul/transit. 

Minister Miao Wei in 2016 set the goal of 25 ms latency to 90% of the country in 2025. At the time, his plan seemed ambitious and far ahead of anyone I Europe or the U.S. To everyone's amazement, the technology has advanced so fast that will likely be achieved by 2023.  The question now is whether China will reduce that to 15-20 ms. With URLLC, that can be reduced to less than 10 ms soon after.

China is planning a major push in automotive, which may support a low latency build. Latency is important for AR & VR; the Minister's 25 ms may not be adequate. AR & VR are so important to the Chinese, the Chairman has spoken up. See Chairman Xi Jinping on VR: Go Gamers!

5G air latency today is ~10 ms. No one outside of China is thinking of putting servers at every tower.

Instead, the closest are 1-3 hops back, resulting in 15-20 ms. Deutsche Telekom is putting servers even further back in the network, looking for 20-25 ms. Verizon's new system is 30 ms; they are talking about putting in Edge Servers later this year and reducing that.

Logically, the Ministry would want to go to every tower for the best possible performance. China, including Xi Jinping, believes a better, faster Internet helps the economy. China, up to the Central Planning Council, is emphasizing the importance of 5G for improving the economy. (The data on high-speed Internet and the economy are very weak and the impact exaggerated around the world.) 

2019 is a go-slow year for decisions. Nomura estimates 172,000 bases in 2019, but the capex projections I've seen suggest that figure won't be reached. 2H 2019 or 1H 2020 should see a massive acceleration/

They are using 2.5-4.9 GHz and typical user speed should be 100-700 megabits. Verizon's millimetre wave will deliver a gigabit to some and could be faster. 

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual results the first four months 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 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.


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, millimetre wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.