BhartiCEO of world #3 Bharti, says, "You build one massive network from which everyone is served." Billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal has 340M million customers across Asia and Africa. "The current system of building networks for each operator needs to be completely dismantled," he tells Economic Times. "Far too much wastage is happening. Netcos and mobile companies should separate themselves. Spectrum should be pooled in a netco. Your spectrum efficiency rises significantly. The need for base stations is halved immediately. The time for a license and 500,000 base stations creating a value is over."

With wireless no longer growing explosively, most countries can't afford to build so many networks. “The density of expenses in terms of capex, spectrum is going up, whereas revenue is tapering off." Vodafone's Vittorio Colao and Stéphane Richard of France Telecom/Orange both are demanding the EU get rid of some competitors - preferably all of them. Colao thinks all but one or two mobile companies can't survive. Every executive at U.S. telcos believes either Sprint or T-Mobile need to disappear. 

One network is much cheaper than two; two cheaper than the four to seven usually needed for strong competition. 

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network. It will soon offer a gigabit or close to 30M homes. Thousands of sites are live in Korea; AT&T is going live with mobile, even lacking phones. 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.

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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.