Small Cell Network 320
Small cells: fiber: Exchange: Cloud RAN: Core: Internet or PSTN. I believe Verizon has made the decision to spend ~$20B and add enough small cells to cover 1/3rd to 1/2 of the U.S. The major construction will be from 2019 to 2022. 

At the edge, 100,000-300,000 new small cells will provide both LTE and 5G service to perhaps 40M homes. They expect to do well enough to extend the build across the United States. All will have 5G millimeter wave fixed access. It will use the 28 GHz band and TDD coding. Likely speed will be ~ 5 gigabits, peak, shared. Most homes will be able to access a gigabit almost all the time because generally the cell will be lightly loaded. 

Latency will be under 10 milliseconds but not the 1 ms highly touted. Putting the intelligence back in the cloud makes 1 ms impractical. To get 1 ms, a massive network of "edge computing" would be needed. Neither Verizon nor any other telco has publicly committed to building that edge computing net. The cost would be massive and the market for 1 ms isn't apparent. Virtual reality is designing for 10 ms. Even the connected car doesn't need to go that low. João Barros of Veniam tells me, "3ms latency is enough for even the most stringent connected vehicle applications." 

When I saw both Verizon and AT&T planning cloud RAN, I knew 1 ms wasn't happening for a decade or more.

 

 

Verizon Small Cell
Verizon Small Cell

 

 

 

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.