US pop July 22 2017All telcos fudge these figures. The U.S. population on July 22, 2017 is 325,491,181 on the census bureau clock. Population will be less than 327M yearend. John Legere of T-Mobile says his LTE network covers 315M. That's 98%. They will cover 321M in six months. AT&T and Verizon both claim 98% today. Overlap is nearly total, but not exactly.

The U.S. has ~99% LTE coverage unless T-Mobile CEO Legere, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, and AT&T CFO John Stephens are lying in the Wall Street presentations. As soon as I saw Pai's proposal for $4.8B in LTE subsidies, I knew something was wrong.

I wrote FCC Plan May Reduce 4G Deployment (Not Satire)Since ~2010, telcos have been slashing spending on landlines even where they would be profitable. They aren't stupid and preferred to wait for the government to pay for everything. With the FCC now paying for wireless, they are cutting wireless spending.

The telcos know that the FCC usually will come to them no matter how much they are demanding. Almost no one can profitably serve extreme rural areas except telcos who have local offices and backhaul in place. Even $7B in stimulus funds was not enough to persuade new entrants to reach the unserved. The remaining unserved are extremely scattered; it's hard to find a town of 200 homes without service. Most unserved are in smaller clusters, often a handful or even a single home.  

~80% of those not covered lived in AT&T, Verizon, or Century/Qwest territory. Verizon refused to expand their network even if the government paid for all of it in the stimulus. Verizon, like AT&T, decided several years ago to go wireless only to about 25% of their homes. That is not because rural lines are necessarily unprofitable. It's just that the single wireless network is so much cheaper than maintaining both that Verizon makes more money shutting the copper. Most of the remaining homes with landline will switch to Verizon wireless.

Politician's plans for the unserved are questionable as the truths politicians tell.

From T-Mobile:  

In typical T-Mobile passion, we are not wasting any time and we plan to light up the first 600 megahertz site in August. We expect spectrum covering more than 1.2 million square miles to be clear in 2017, with actual deployments in many areas by year end. We expect to have several compatible devices by the holiday season, so our customers can take advantage of this right away ...  We continue to grow our 4G LTE network, which covers 315 million people today and we have 321 million in our sites by year end 2017. We remain the fastest network in America. We have been the fastest network in America for 14 quarters in a row and the gap is getting even wider.

But don't believe Legere's hype

"We will use a portion of our 600 megahertz spectrum holdings to deploy America’s first nationwide 5G network in the 2019/2020 timeframe." It's really 4G, a software tweak, and misleading PR.

dave ask

Newsfeed

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.

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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.