massive mimo linkopingsHoping for 2017 although almost no one expected this before 2020 and "5G." CEO Lowell McAdams told analysts Verizon plans  "Staying ~two years ahead of competitors in network performance."  Massive MIMO and beamforming deliver "Huge gains in spectral efficiency." Delivered wireless can increase two to ten times over the next few years using arrays of thirty-five to hundreds of antennas. A 10x jump wouldn't surprise any of the researchers. Pulling that far ahead is probably an impossible dream. AT&T has almost caught up with Verizon. 

Until this week, almost everyone thought substantial Massive MIMO deployment unlikely until 2020 and 5G. The excellent Bernstein analyst Paul de Sa was the first to report "VZ will soon begin market trials of 5G capabilities including 'massive MIMO' (which is when a large number of antennas are packed into a single device) and beam forming (which is when a wireless signal is concentrated on a specific location)." I confirmed with a second analyst what was said.

Beginning trials soon would suggest deployment in 2017 if they go well.

That's not guaranteed. Researchers in this field including Tom Marzetta and Andrea Goldsmith have pointed to problems still needing solution. Both are confident the technology will work but hadn't told me they expected it that quickly.

"Huge gains in spectral efficiency." Wireless speeds to your phone can increase two to ten times over the next few years using arrays of thirty-five to hundreds of antennas. Ten times wouldn't surprise any of the researchers. Until this week, almost everyone thought production units were unlikely until 2020 and 5G. 

Antonio Forenza's pCell uses similar methods, although the details are undisclosed. Verizon's interest may explain why Nokia made the surprise announcement they would test pCell. Verizon has sometimes been Alcatel's largest customer. Nokia needs to keep them happy. They would grab anything that would help with Verizon sales.

pCell already has a 35 antenna 5'x2'x2' hub. Tower, working with UCSD, has a very small 256 antenna transmitter that looks aimed at expensive military systems. Henry Samueli of Broadcom mentioned last year they were working on a chip for 50 antennas or more although they haven't released any details. 

Lowell McAdams' dream is probably impossible because Verizon and AT&T no longer have that level of research capability. U.S. phone companies have cut R & D so much they produce few if any breakthroughs. They are dependent on suppliers for most new tech, mostly Nokia-Alcatel & Ericsson. Both sell to Verizon's competitors, especially AT&T. Verizon has modestly cut capex the last few years. They would need to dramatically increase capex to pull away from AT&T. They essentially use the same technology on very similar networks.

U.S. telcos' massive cut in R & D over the last two decades is one reason U.S. telecom equipment companies are rarely competitive. Wireless is by far the largest sector and no U.S. company has much presence any more. 

Sources: Anyone eligible for investor reports should make sure to connect with Paul de Sa and his colleague Carlos Kirjner at Bernstein. At Columbia, Google VP Milo Medin apologized because he couldn't release information about Google Fiber. He recommended people check the work at Bernstein. I can confirm that Kirchner's estimates are consistent with the economics of other fiber networks. Milo also said that cities like New York and San Francisco are unlikely to get much fiber. The cost of digging up city streets and sidewalks is often prohibitive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling that far ahead is probably an impossible dream. AT&T has almost caught up with Verizon 

dave askJuly 2017 Gigabit LTE is real in 2017. So is 5G Massive MIMO. 5G mmWave to fixed antennas is likely 2018, with mobile to follow. China, Japan, Korea, and Verizon U.S. have planned $500B for "5G," with heavy investment expected 2019-2021. 

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Wireless One - W1 replaces 5gwnews.com in July 2017. Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor.