In 60-90 days, expect to see the 835 in the Samsung Galaxy 8, the Xiaomi MI 6, and phones from HTC and LG. Phones with a good connection will usually deliver hundreds of megabits. Behind some walls or at the cell edge, speeds can go down 95%.     

T-Mobile has a dramatic video of testing over 900 megabits with "an unreleased phone." It's embedded below or just click on the picture to the left. In Tokyo, Huawei's LTE ran at over a gig for the two day show. They are working with British Telecom on a 2 gigabit version using more spectrum. 

Both Sprint and T-Mobile have deployed 50-60 MHz of spectrum (three carrier aggregation) and advanced coding (256 QAM.) Tyrone Beckwith testing T-Mobile has found speeds more than doubling with 256 QAM and 4x4 MIMO, apparently with 20 MHz. When the MIMO and three/four carriers are combined, the cell will be served with something close to a gigabit. Ray speaks of four antenna MIMO, which is already working at True in Thailand, Telus in Canada, and T-Mobile. Saw speaks of "Massive MIMO," 64-128 antennas that Sprint parent Softbank is deploying by the thousand in Japan. That's a 3X to 10X further improvement. 

Saw has 160 MHz in most cities across the U.S. but so far has only deployed 40-60 MHz. Sprint has extraordinary potential capacity. T-Mobile is more limited, with 40-80 MHz most places.  Telstra in Australia and SK in Korea thought they'd be at the gigabit in 2016 but the Qualcomm chip was delayed. No one doubts the technology will work, but deployment in 2017 will probably be limited everywhere. Only high end phones will have all the features. 

Verizon is being quiet but their research is advanced.

Mike Dano of Fierce is hosting a breakfast at CES on January 6 with Ray and Saw's colleague G√ľnther Ottendorfer. I wish I were there and could ask for more details. I'd like to understand what brings down the peak speed to a user when the cell is uncongested; performance differences between 4x4 and Massive MIMO; and an estimate of when this performance will come to less expensive phones. Looks like a good event.

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.