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.

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dave ask

Newsfeed

Lei Jun Xiaomi "5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020"5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020" I say sooner

Verizon CEO Ronan Dunne: >1/2 VZ 5G "will approximate to a good 4G service" Midband in "low hundreds" Mbps

CFO John Stephens says AT&T is going to cut capex soon.

Bharti in India has lost 45M customers who did not want to pay the minimum USS2/month. It's shutting down 3G to free some spectrum for 4G. It is cutting capex, dangerous when the 12 gigabytes/month of use continues to rise.

Huawei in 16 days sold 1,000,000 5G Mate 20s.  

China has over 50,000 upgraded base stations and may have more than 200,000 by yearend 2019. The growth is astonishing and about to accelerate. China will have more 5G than North America and Europe combined for several years.

5G phone prices are down to $580 in China from Oppo. Headed under $300 in 2020 and driving demand.

No one believed me when I wrote in May, 90% of Huawei U.S. purchases can be rapidly replaced and that Huawei would survive and thrive. Financial results are in, with 23% growth and increased phone sales. It is spending $17B on research in 2019, up > 10%. 

5G phones spotted from Sharp and Sony

NTT DOCOMO will begin "pre-commercial service Sept 20 with over 100 live bases. Officially, the commercial start is 2020.

 More newsfeed

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Welcome  1,800,000 Koreans bought 5G in the first four months. The demand is there, and most of the technology works. 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.