Wireless traffic growth Cisco VNI 230OFCOM, the British regulator, reports mobile data use per subscriber increasing 25% in 2018. Telefonica Deutschland expects the growth rate from 2017 to 2020 to be 37%, presumably higher in the earlier years. Cisco's VNI predicts North American wireless growth of 31% in 2022.  The traffic growth rate is crucial to get accurate; it determines when a company needs to invest to avoid a problem.

In the chart at left from Cisco VNI data, the blue is 2018 growth and the red the projection for 2022. Every region falls. That corresponds to the experience of almost every country. Growth is rapid when smartphones are being adopted then falls off when most people have smartphones. In Australia, traffic spiked when Netflix arrived. Netflix is now in most countries, so that will be rare going forward.

The important exception is China. Government and company figures are growth over 80% in 2018 despite wide smartphone ownership. My guess is that the increase is due to increased TV watching, as video on demand services like Tencent Video, Youku, and iQIYI have grown very rapidly. Cable TV subscriptions have fallen the last two years at one of the highest rates in the world.

One possible contradiction is the 80% growth in U.S. wireless in 2018 reported by the CTIA trade association. This is almost certainly an artefact.  90% of U.S. wireless is four companies, which individually have reported much lower rates. In 2017, CTIA reported only 20% growth when the companies reported 35% to 50%. The two-year average growth was a much more reasonable 40%-45%. It could be explained, perhaps, if one of the large carriers reported its data late and it was pushed from 2017 to 2018. 

dave ask


Samsung has delivered 5G chip samples to BBK's Oppo and Vivo, the #2 or #3 phones manufacturer. Samsung is facing off against Qualcomm in the 5G market. Qualcomm is unfazed and reportedly moving the production of their next chip from TSMC to Samsung. 

Sprint's 2.5 GHz 5G is delivering 100-500 megabit downloads consistently. That bodes well for China Mobile, using the same frequencies.

Vodafone, BT, and soon 3UK are delivering modestly sized 5G mid-band networks. Vodafone is also live in Spain and Italy. 

Sunrise in Switzerland is using 5G mid-band for fixed wireless in rural areas.  

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Welcome  1,000,000 Koreans bought 5G in the first ten weeks. The demand is there, and most of the technology works. 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.