Ronan DUnne Brit FlagThe Age of Wireless Abundance is Here, I wrote a few weeks ago, but even I didn't expect Verizon to move so soon. President Ronan Dunne reversed a decade of crying shortage, shortage. “We’ve built our network so we can manage all the activity customers undertake and we’ve built it for the future, not just for today,”

That's an enormous turnaround from a few months ago, when CFO Fran Shammo told investors, "At the end of the day the majority of people don't need unlimited plans. But the people who use unlimited plans can be abusive, they can really wreak havoc to your network. And at the end of the day as we launched LTE, I continue to say you cannot make money in an unlimited video world." 

Nothing's changed on the network, but Shammo is gone and Ronan has joined. Verizon actually has a somewhat obsolete network, building most of it in 2009-2011. More recently, T-Mobile has built comparable capacity for half what Verizon spent and has easier upgrades. If those two can go "unlimited," so can almost every major telco. 

Marty Cooper said three years ago, "There's never been a spectrum shortage and there never will be one." I was skeptical until I heard some very good engineers who mostly agreed: Paulraj, Samueli, Goldsmith, Cerf and others. They inspired me to learn the technology, which is advancing at an almost unbelievable speed. 10X is in sight even with Verizon reducing capex. 25-50X will be possible soon, with Massive MIMO and mmWave. Verizon's 5G mmWave in Massachusetts will not be mobile, but Massive MIMO is ready to go.

Unlimited wireless spreading worldwide

T-Mobile in the Netherlands also went unlimited, probably signaling most Europe will do similar. Most telcos will fight as hard as they can, which will delay the change many places. Never underestimate $500B of telcos. They have Significant Market Power and are experts in Regulatory Capture. Put otherwise, they have a helluva leverage.

Bandwidth is not free, but it's getting cheaper very rapidly. David Allen of Verizon estimates the cost per bit is dropping 40%/year. I mentioned that to a CTO, who responded, "It may be closer to 55%-60%." There's no standard way to measure cost, so the figures are just approximations. The trend is clear.

Verizon's price is high, over $90 including fees, compared with $75 at T-Mobile. Over 22 gigabits you'll slow down at peak times, which is why I put "unlimited" in quotes. Dunne says they, "don’t expect very often." Most wireless networks have congestion less than 5% of the time and spare capacity almost always. (Didn't you know that? You must have been listening to lobbyists, shills, and fools.)

Verizon has 40 MHz of unused spectrum, enough to cover any likely demand increase. They are only at 2 band (40 MHz of LTE) so can double that with the spectrum they have. They can go to higher MIMO (Gig LTE,), more bits per signal (256 QAM,) and a modest small cell expansion where they most need it.  That's an 6-10X capacity increase practical in 2-3 years. 

Verizon's biggest problem is they can't sell all the capacity they are building.

 If you want to understand the technologies behind all this, here are my recent writeups followed by the Verizon unlimited pr.

Gig LTE & Massive MIMO ushering in the Age of Wireless Abundance

Heres the pr.

Get unlimited data on the network you deserve: Verizon

Unlimited data on the Verizon network has arrived. Beginning Monday, Verizon is offering an introductory plan that gives you unlimited data on your smartphone and tablet on the best 4G LTE network in the country. With Verizon Unlimited, you also get HD video streaming, Mobile Hotspot, calling and texting to Mexico and Canada and up to 500 MB/day of 4G LTE roaming in Mexico and Canada - included.

“We’ve built our network so we can manage all the activity customers undertake. Everything we’ve done is to provide the best experience on the best network – and we’ve built it for the future, not just for today,” said Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon’s wireless division. “We also fundamentally want you to have more choice. We’re not limiting you to a single plan. If you don’t need unlimited data, we still have 5 GB, S, M, and L Verizon plans that are perfect for you.”

Our 4G LTE network already covers more than 2.4 million square miles and consistently delivers fast speeds in more places than any other network. Ever since we were first to launch 4G LTE broadly across the country, we’ve been making it even better, faster, stronger, every single day:

  • We’ve layered in our spectrum assets to provide the breadth and depth of coverage that serves you best. 
  • We launched LTE Advanced  that provides you with 50% faster peak speeds in more than 471 cities nationwide
  • We can adjust to your demand in real-time with the latest antenna technology coupled with state of the art software platforms, which also let us deploy new services faster than ever before
  • Our innovative small cell deployment is the largest in the nation and it is foundational to the best experience.
  • We have deep fiber connected through advanced architectures.

With Verizon Unlimited, you’ll get great coverage with us in cities large and small, in rural locations, and everywhere in between. All of these enhancements help us provide you with the best experience in wireless.

Verizon Unlimited is a great value:

  • $80 for unlimited data, talk and text on your smartphone with paper-free billing and AutoPay.
  • $45 per line for four lines with unlimited data, talk and text on your smartphones and tablets with paper-free billing and AutoPay.

On all Verizon Unlimited plans you get our fast LTE speeds. To ensure a quality experience for all customers, after 22 GB of data usage on a line during any billing cycle we may prioritize usage behind other customers in the event of network congestion. While we don’t expect to do that very often, network management is a crucial tool that benefits all Verizon customers. If you’re on Verizon Unlimited, you’ll have the same coverage and reliability as everybody else.You can add a connected smart watch, GizmoPal, or other connected device for just $5 each month. Get TravelPass for $10 per day (500 MB/day limit; 2G speeds after that) while overseas. Mobile Hotspot with 10 GB of 4G LTE data is included at no charge (after 10 GB you’ll get 3G data speeds).

 

dave askAugust 2018 Verizon's $20B 5G build is starting to add customers in 2018. Gigabit LTE & Massive MIMO became real in 2017 and enow expanding worldwide. Almost all the other "5G" is mid-band, 70%-90% slower + hype. Europe is mostly pr. The term 5G has been bastardized, unfortunately.

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor. I always want to hear from you, especially if you catch a mistake.

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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.