Rick Merritt, one of the world’s best tech reporters, reports from Qualcomm Maui, “Data rates for the first batch of handsets will likely be limited to a few hundred Mbits/s.” The only test results were downloads of 140 megabits to 470 megabits. This is far less than the gigabit expected from millimetre wave.

A world-class engineer assures me the problems will be solved. Unless answers are found quickly, volume rollouts will slip into 2020. In addition, Qualcomm CEO Amon Cristiano confirmed they have no units for the most popular frequency bands, 600 MHz to 1.8 GHz, which require FDD. (Most spectrum from 2.3 GHz up is designated TDD, which is shipping.)

The first phones are slower than decent 4G and less than half what Verizon is delivering to homes. LTE is in the field delivering 500 megabits (T-Mobile, Manhattan and elsewhere,)  For now, 80%+ of “5G” is slower than 4G. Really. The latest 4G lab results reach 1.5-2.0 gigabits. See http://wirelessone.news/10-r/1244-4g-verizon-telstra-2-gigabits Tens of thousands of towers are equipped with "Gig LTE," although there are very few phones.

 "5G Hype Is Out of Control This Week" Sam Rutherford writes. "There was very little substance to be found.

So basically, a bunch of companies spent mountains of cash so a handful of people could see a tiny 5G icon in the top corner of a phone that isn’t for sale. On top of that, there were other tidbits of info that came out that may have people balking, such as OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau saying that 5G phones could carry a $200 to $300 premium over phones with 4G LTE, which is a lot to ask for young tech that might not work that well yet."

Verizon is delivering the gig promised but phone-sized RF and antennas aren't there.

 

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.