OnoeMost previously expected deployments before 2022 to be extremely modest. The highly respected NTT DOCOMO CTO in 2015 predicted little mmWave mobile before 2022-2023. That became the common wisdom among leading engineers despite the massive pr it would be sooner. At the Brooklyn 5G, he acknowledged advances have been made and he now expects sooner. Ted Rappaport is no longer the outlier on projected volume deployment. Nothing is certain yet, but many think Onoe is on target. 3GPP, under pressure from telcos, is cooperating.

3GPP, under pressure from telcos, is cooperating. They are expediting the ridiculously named "5G New Radio Non-standalone." That's mostly a 4G LTE system with some software tweaks and the ability to use mmWave as well as Wi-Fi spectrum. The existing LTE network will handle the hard stuff,

such as handovers when a car driving 60 mph rapidly crosses cells. Existing LTE will "control" the network; the extra spectrum will add more data capacity. Inoe in his 2016 presentation "5G Myths" dispelled any thoughts of shutting down LTE for a decade or more. That too has become common wisdom, so the telcos can depend on LTE for the control plan for many years.

"Non-standalone" will have additional capacity from the added spectrum, possibly 5 gigabits to 200-600 homes. Towers will have generally transmit about a gigabit to 2-4 times as many. Unlike "New Radio" in 3.5 GHz spectrum, it's not "fake 5G." Careful thinkers call "Non-standalone" and "fixed 5G mmWave" Phase One. The full 5G won't be available until Phase Two and Three next decade.

Intel is promising mmWave chip samples later in 2017 for deployment. Qualcomm is similar. Both are expecting production chips in 2019. The first chips will almost certainly be power-hungry, hot, and require large batteries. Some will get to testing and perhaps early adopters in 2019, making 2020 for a wider deployment perhaps reasonable.

Verizon I believe has decided to go ahead with a ~$20B small cell network to cover 1/3rd to 1/2 of the U.S. between 2019 & 2022. Officially, all they promise is "commercial deployments of fixed wireless mmWave & 4G small cells in 2019." Mobile 5G will be added when ready. They already are going full speed ahead with the small cells. Equipment is in place in 11 cities and the official announcement will be very soon. The vendors (Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung) are all promising an easy and inexpensive upgrade to mmWave mobile. 

Massive mobile capacity ~2020 is extremely encouraging to Verizon, who just had their worst quarter in 20 years. Verizon's entire business model is based on charging premium prices for a better network. T-Mobile's network is now so close to Verizon performance in most cities customers are going for the lower prices. That's an important reason Verizon is rushing; they need to maintain an image of superiority.

10,0000+ engineers are working away but nothing is guaranteed.

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. 

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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.