400 meters mmWave without line of sight. Most projections of mmWave costs imply a reach about half that; longer reach would dramatically reduce the network costs. I believe the multi-billion dollars mmWave deployments at Verizon and NTT DOCOMO are going forward because of the newly demonstrated performance. Until recently, most in the industry feared that mmWave would cost so much the economics would not support even a single network. Lowell tells Morgan's Phil Cusick,

"We were at 2000 feet from the receiver in Samsung's Technology Park, we were delivering 1.8 gigs. We said, "Okay, take that truck, drive it around the backside of the building," so there is no possible way you will have a direct line of sight, 2000 feet away, it delivered 1.4 gigabytes of throughput. And the reason was that it took all the different reflections and the computers were able to process and then get that signal back up."

Seeking Alpha transcript.

"You didn't have MIMO, you know, Massive In, Massive Out antenna structures, you didn't have the computing power that you had to do signal processing that you can do today. Small cells are a fraction of what they cost even five years ago. ... I think people when they say, 'Oh, it's just line of sight,' they've forgotten the computer technology that you see in the antenna systems today that you didn't have even five years ago."

I believe the most dramatic is the extraordinary success of beamforming with multiple antennas. mmWave antennas are very small; you can fit 128 of them into a package the size of a processor chip. 

 Adrian Scrase, CTO of ETSI and crucial in 5G standards, reports similar. "Those who are experimenting with the millimetric wave bands (above 30GHz) are saying that in general they perform better than they first thought, ... What they’ve shown from the trials is that they are not line of sight. ..where you don’t have line of sight between two objects, if you can’t see them directly you bounce off an object to cover that particular part of the geography.”  From Mobile Europe, which is doing outstanding work separating 5G facts from hype.

DOCOMO CTO Onoe spoke in April of the remarkable recent results. His CEO now promises 5G to all 128M Japanese by 2023,

In 2023, hundreds of millions will have two gigabit choices, with the advance of 5G, fiber, and G.fast while billions will not have a single decent choice at high speeds.

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.