Enrique BlancoTelefonica CTO Enrique Blanco's eyes lit up when I suggested he could pull far ahead with true gigabit millimeter wave 5G. Deutsche Telekom & Vodafone are going with mid-band "5G" at 3.5 GHz, with 60-80% less capacity. He carefully told me nothing of his company's plans but we had a good discussion of why Verizon is betting US$20B on millimeter wave.

Cayetano Carbajo, CTO Germany. has now announced that is exactly what they are going to do. They will offer fixed wireless to 25% of Germany, about 10 million homes, beginning in 2019. They are the first in Europe to commit to mmWave; everyone else in Europe is sticking to 5G/4G mid-band hybrids. Mid-band 5G is 4G hardware plus NR software. The capacity is similar to 4G, a gigabit + in the lab and 100-400 megabits to most customers. 

Verizon is doing 25% of the U.S. and is already serving customers with close to a gigabit. See 

Planned right, the cost is so low Verizon can cut capital spending.  Hans Vestberg at Verizon estimates US$250-400 per home passed, half the cost of fibre. Reaching 25% can be done merely by upgrading existing cell sites, relatively cheap.

It can be done with small cells in place or needed anyway for 4G. Vestberg pointed out that when it is time to go beyond the 25% - 3 or 4 years - the equipment prices should be much lower. He says Verizon will do "the entire country" by 2028. Qualcomm estimates existing towers can offer a gigabit to about 65% of most cities. (Outside.) 

In Germany. CEO Markus Haas "when the first devices are available for the mass market." Vestberg, Qualcomm, and many others expect that to be mid-2019. See Almost no 7 nm capacity=almost no 5G chips=almost no 5G phones. Samsung, the likely supplier, is supplying outside units for fixed wireless to Verizon already. They will connect indoors by Wi-Fi.  

Initially, TEF will offer fixed wireless service with an outdoor antenna. mmWaves pass through some walls and windows and are blocked by others. Verizon intends to do customer installs in the future, presumably indoors in most cases.

Going quickly to mmWave is probably the right strategy for non-incumbents where unbundling is not practical. Telefonica and Verizon are the only ones who see it that way today; everyone else is sticking with mid-band for now, even the Chinese and Koreans.

Look out, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone. 

Telefónica Germany and Samsung are testing 5G Fixed Wireless Access accesses in Germany


In concrete terms, Samsung will support the test setup with a complete end-to-end millimeter-wave solution (26 GHz). The combination of newly developed hardware technology with special software enables fast transfer rates of several gigabits per second over the so-called "last mile". The technology consists essentially of the following components: a virtual core and a 5G radio access unit on the part of Telefónica as well as 5G outdoor unit and indoor routers for the customers.

  • Fixed Wireless Access enables rapid broadband access
  • Tests with 20 households in Hamburg from November 2018With the test Telefónica and Samsung are testing an attractive alternative to the previous technologies in Germany. The test will show whether households and professionals can be supplied with high-quality Gigabi connections for the best possible customer experience without the complicated laying of fiber optic cables.
  • "Telefónica Germany and Samsung are working hand in hand on the introduction of 5G in Germany in connection with FWA," says Cayetano Carbajo Martín , CTO of Telefónica Deutschland. "We are confident that Telefónica Deutschland will be able to demonstrate the technical feasibility of Fixed Wireless Access in Germany and at the same time create a better network experience with a view to future technologies."

    "5G fixed wireless access is a promising, fast and cost-effective way to provide real broadband access to people across the country, and a good alternative to expensive fiber optics," said GY Seo , Senior Vice President and Head of Global Sales & Marketing Team, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. "We are pleased to be working with Telefónica on the testing of 5G FWA. Among other things, with the cooperation we learn to better understand the requirements of our customers and at the same time explore attractive alternative access technologies in Germany. "


    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.