working three leg 230

We now have data from the field: 5G isn’t close to the hype, which implies that revenue growth will be limited. Fortunately, the costs are also coming in low. This report covers how smart builds and sensible choices in focus can help in an era of limited growth.

I needed a framework to think about 5G Strategy for an analysis report I'm writing for STL Partners. This isn't everything to consider, but it's a good starting point. Improvements welcome.

5G capacity/speed  is not even close to the hype.

20% to 40% better than decent 4G at 2100 MHz or lower

~50% better at 2500 MHz through 4900 MHz (in theory)

Millimetre wave, less than 15% of 5G through 2025 or later, should be offer about three times the performance of 4G or 5G in lower frequencies.

Latency on Verizon’s 5G network is announced as 30 ms, within 5-10 ms of 4G latency today. It measures as low as 20-23 ms. in the first locations. That probably reflects improved backhaul/transit, because LTE tests almost as low in the same locations.


working three leg 65 There are very few applications/use cases that will require 5G rather than 4G performance in the next 3-6 years.

STL Partners forecasts less than 1% annual growth for global telecom revenue from fixed and mobile services for 2019-2022. Mobile revenues will probably decline in North America and Western Europe.

IoT and nearly everything else, including connected cars, works fine on LTE.

Massive video surveillance with facial recognition will probably require more than 4G in some locations.

Extended reality streaming is a natural application for low latency networks. Some industry experts believe 20 ms latency or lower is required. Others believe 10 ms or lower in necessary. Verizon’s 5G network is specified as 30 ms. Edge networks or improved backhaul/transport may be required, not just 5G. In addition, many people “just don’t want to put a heavy device on their head.” Large volume is not guaranteed.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband is jargon for “more of same.” It is by far the most important 5G use for at least the first few years. 5G does offer more capacity and lower cost per bits. I believe improving existing services will be the best way to monetize 5G for years.

This report reviews many possible applications that can benefit.



The “high cost of 5G” is a myth, respected NTT DOCOMO CTO Seizo Onoe has been saying since 2016.

In 2017, Verizon asserted they could build one of the world’s most advanced 5G networks without increasing capex. It actually reduced spending in 2018 as it built the new network.

In 2018, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, and Orange also announced they could build 5G with the same or even lower capital spending. DT and Orange forecast that would continue at least through 2021.

2019 capital spending plans for nearly all major carriers have been announced. Very few are increasing spending substantially despite a major effort in 5G.

Operating costs are falling precipitously. Both Verizon and AT&T are seeing costs falling at 40% per year and expect that rate to continue.

Traffic growth is also falling. Cisco estimates U.S. growth will fall to 30% per year in 2021, less than expected productivity improvements. Most carriers will be able to maintain current profit margins despite traffic growth, unless over-capacity inspires severe revenue drop.

Conclusion: Nearly all carriers across the world remain highly profitable but have seen little growth for several years. 5G is unlikely to change that. The strategy at least for the first years of 5G is to become more efficient, not count on new income. Increased capacity and lower costs will allow income growth if products are improved and well marketed.


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.