Draft for comment: more thorough and accurate version to come. Improvements and disagreements welcome.

Verizon has decided to spend $20-25,000,000,000 on 5G millimeter wave to 30-40,000,000 homes, I believe. This is not a test, trial, or “part of 11 cities” deployment. This will be the largest new network in the western world.

1/3rd to 1/2 of the U.S. will be covered. In 2019 - if all goes well - they will begin installing between 100,000 and 300,000 small cells. They hope to finish this phase in 2022 or 2023.

Each cell will have a 4G/5G upgradable radio and will immediately add capacity to LTE, right where it’s most needed. That’s why Verizon didn’t buy any spectrum in the auction; LTE & LAA will provide what’s needed, even with an “unlimited” offering.

 

5G mmWave mobile now looks to be important in 2020 rather than the 2022-2023 previously expected by the pros. Verizon will have 2 gigabits to 5 gigabits wherever deployed, 10X as much capacity as today serving fewer users per cell.

They intend to use that bandwidth to blow away T-Mobile and Sprint, currently stealing customers at a ferocious rate. mmWave is close to a natural monopoly because all those cells and backhaul cost so much. By mid-decade, Verizon hopes to raise the ante to play in this market. AT&T, it seems, has decided to almost match them. Others may very well have to fold.

Even two networks will be hard to support; four will be almost impossible. I’ve been a lone voice warning that competition will break down in the mmWave era; the policy people have been burying their heads in the sand.

They will begin this year to install the $1B of fiber they just ordered from Corning. The fiber build alone will cost $4-7B; the actual fiber is just a small part of the cost. This to me was the proof point. It just doesn’t make sense to spend ~$5B on fiber unless Verizon intends to put cells nearly everywhere.

Until the last few months, pros like NTT CTO Seizo Onoe didn’t believe millimeter wave for mobile would be ready for volume until 2022-2023. Inoe made a dramatic speech at the Brooklyn 5G; he now believes 5G mmWave Mobile will be ready in 2020.

5G fixed will be there from the beginning. Verizon carefully is saying “Only 5G fixed until mobile is ready.” This is researched but I do not have any inside information from the top of the company. Much is by inference. Nothing like this has been announced although they have been dropping hints to Wall Street.

I believe I’m first with this conclusion but I expect a bandwagon to build over the next few months.  After 18 years, I don’t think this will destroy my reputation if I have it wrong or they change their mind. I considered the evidence carefully.

The mission can be aborted until 2019, when investments become large. If the trials hit unexpected problems, they could drop the whole thing. If they make a big deal, like buying Charter, things will evolve. Deals are unlikely; none look to make economic sense.

-

dave ask

Newsfeed

The 3.3-4.2 spectrum should be shared, not exclusively used by one company, concludes an important U.S. Defense Innovation Board report. If more wireless broadband is important, sharing is of course right because shared networks can yield far more

It does work! Verizon's mmWave tests over a gigabit in the real world. 
The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro outclasses the best Apples and probably the new Galaxy 10 or Huawei P30 Pro. Optical zoom, three cameras, liquid cooling, Qualcomm 855 and more.
Korea at 400,000 5G May 15. Chinese "pre-commercial" signing customers, 60,000-120,000 base stations in 2019, million+ remarkable soon. 
5G phones Huawei Mate 20, Samsung Galaxy 10, ZTE Nubia, LG V50, and OPPO are all on sale at China Unicom. All cost US$1,000 to 1,500 before subsidy. Xiaomi promises US$600.
Natural monopoly? Vodafone & Telecom Italia to share 5G, invite all other companies to join.
Huawei predicts 5G phones for US$200 in 2021, $300 even earlier
NY Times says "5G is dangerous" is a Russian plot. Really.
Althiostar raised US$114 million for a virtual RAN system in the cloud. Rakuten, Japan's new #4, is using it and invested.
Ireland is proposing a US$3 billion subsidy for rural fibre that will be much too expensive. Politics.
Telefonica Brazil has 9M FTTH homes passed and will add 6M more within two years. Adjusted for population, that's more than the U.S. The CEO publicly urged other carriers to raise prices together.
CableLabs and Cisco have developed Low Latency XHaul (LLX) with 5-15 ms latency for 5G backhaul,  U.S. cable is soon to come in very strong in wireless. Details 
Korea Telecom won 100,000 5G customers in the first month. SK & LG added 150,000 more. KT has 37,500 cells. planning 90% of the country by yearend. 
The Chinese giants expect 60,000 to 90,000 5G cells by the end of 2019.
China Telecom's Yang Xin warns, "Real large-scale deployment of operators' edge computing may be after 2021." Customers are hard to find.
Reliance Jio registered 97.5% 4G availability across India in Open Signal testing. Best in world.

More newsfeed

----------

Welcome On Oct 1, 2019 Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual early results have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. Meanwhile, 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 3X 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.