Small Cell Network 320
Absolutely not announced but I'm sure they made the go decision. Recent actions have made clear they are going forward to 30-50M homes, probably  2019-2022.  This will require 100.000's of thousand of small cells and possibly over a million. They want the best network in America, probably unmatched in any other part of the world as well. 

My conviction comes from my belief that the top people at Verizon are smart and knowledgeable. They've taken several actions that would be stupid if the big build wasn't decided. McAdam and team are the opposite of stupid.

Senior executives have made a dozen statements pointing the way. Verizon is a world leader in 5G research, with eleven cities mostly installed and about to go live. (Fixed only, upgrading to mobile as soon as it is ready ?2020-2021.) The technology has improved so much in the last year the engineers are confident. The cost is coming in lower than expected. Verizon can expect some crucial marketing and lobbying advantages. Everything has come together to make this the logical move for Verizon.


Verizon's 5G network - What

CEO Lowell McAdam provided many details talking to Wall Street. (Here and here.)

Homes will have an outside antenna, measured in inches, not feet. That the antenna is larger than an entire cell phone is one reason the fixed connections are easier than the mobile ones. Target speed is 5 gigabits shared, 1 gigabit to almost everybody most of the time. A wire will normally terminate in an Ethernet jack inside.

The actual signals will travel over 28 GHz, where Verizon has eight times as much spectrum as they are using today.  The available spectrum allows higher speeds. They will probably start at 5 gigabits (shared) and I have seen 20 gigabit radios almost ready for market. Most customers with a good connection will see 1 gigabit almost all the time. In practice, it's very rare to see many users running 100 meg at the same time, much less 500-1000.  

The radios will also support advanced LTE, with speeds that may go up to a gigabit, shared. The LTE can be put to work immediately, providing much-needed capacity.  The first wave probably will be 200,00-300,000 small cells. A national network will probably require a million.

 Verizon and everyone else so far is using fiber to connect to a Cloud RAN: dozens or hundreds of relatively simple cells will be connected to one big brain. NG-PON2 is the likely fiber choice. Ericsson thinks microwave backhaul has a place.

The travel back and forth to the Cloud slows things down but the savings look to be enormous. One ms looks to be a dream more than a desired product. Even connected cars and virtual reality work well at 5-10 ms  I haven't spoken to a telco convinced. While 1 millisecond latency is possible and widely promoted, all the telcos who have announced are building for 5-10 milliseconds. It costs as much as double to deliver 1 ms, because you need to have a great deal of intelligence in every node.

Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization will be every.



dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 


 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.