Farooq Khan says Phazr, his small company near Dallas, can compete with the giants for the millions of 5G small cells soon to deploy. Verizon is listening and is testing the Phazr equipment. Their target was to be ready by the end of 2017.

Phazr's base station is about two feet high and a foot wide. That's large enough for 384 antennas per sector, three sectors per cell. That's massive, massive MIMO. It's made possible by the very small size of mmWave antennas.

Phazr's system uses mmWave for the download but ordinary spectrum below 6 GHz for the upload. This has the advantage of requiring much less power in the mobile phone, producing less heat.

Kahn writes, "Phazr aspires to become the U.S. company producing 5G mmWave gear. mmWave technology is heavily concentrated in the US thanks to decades of investments from DARPA/ US government.  'ITization' of mobile & fixed networks is removing barriers to entry. Network operators are encouraging the entry of new 'lean' network vendors to drive down Capex & Opex. These two factors (local mmWave ecosystem and 'ITization' of mobile networks) presents an opportunity for a local USA-based radio network gear provider to enter the market."

He has recruited a team of industry veterans from the vast pool of engineering talent in Dallas. The software development is mostly being done in Bangalore. Robert Heath (who wrote the textbook) and NYU's Sundeep Rangan are on the Advisory Board. 

Verizon is also working with Khan's previous company, Samsung. While not as well known and Nokia or Ericsson, Samsung is under serious consideration in some of the largest 5G deployments.

Much of the pioneering work on mmWave was done in the U.S. by Ted Rappaport and others, but no U.S. company produces 5G mmWave gear. 

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.