White space 16 megabits 200These may be the first customers getting more than 10 megabits reported anywhere. Michael Davies and Richard Yu of 6Harmonics in Ottawa have sent me test data showing customers with a connection phy rate of 16-18 megabits, as well as convincing details from other deployments doing better than that. I thank Boston Consulting Group for pushing me to go beyond published reports and get these new results. The fuzzy photo below shows eight users connected to a base station using a single 6 MHz channel. They have deployments in California and North Carolina using two channels for nearly double the speed. High speed uplink is included.

They are ready with a three channel unit for even higher speeds. Yu has been working on multiple antenna systems (MIMO) for almost 20 years. I'm sure he can achieve even better throughput using more antennas. They seem to be so busy actually building the equipment they haven't had time to get the latest results up on their web site. CEO Yu, off the record, shared remarkable predictions for what they will offer within a year. 


Professors Roy and Anant had sent me theoretical reasons why it would be hard to go beyond 10 megabits. I researched the publicly discussed deployments and couldn't find any going faster than 10. I used that figure in my early writeup of Microsoft's White Space proposals, which I called too slow. I was lucky I found this before I published. The 6Harmonic deployments are doing better than 10 megabits.

An engineer tells me he expects multiple antenna (MIMO) White Space gear within the year. MIMO with 4-8 antennas requires mixed terrain that allow the signals to reflect. It works poorly in the Australian Outback, which is most flat. It works well in most cities but not to all neighborhoods. Paulraj tells me Massive MIMO will work in flat topographies as well; the many antennas allow focusing the beams. Massive is now deploying at four carriers, with several more announcing they will soon deploy.  

Berkeley's Anant Sahai, author with Kate Harrison of How much white-space capacity is there?,  wrote me

"Suppose we assume that we can have 4 spatially multiplexed streams each with a spectral efficiency of 2 bits/sec/Hz = 4 * 2 * 6 = 48 Mbits/sec. This comports with your "about 50" number that is of course shared among all the users of the base-station. From my perspective, this is a relatively optimistic number since it does not take into account any interference. While that might be reasonable either during early deployments or as an assumption for an isolated group of homes in the middle of nowhere (either way, there isn't really another system operating nearby), it would be more reasonable to assume 1 bit/sec/Hz per spatial stream as the best case in generic situations that do have interference among sites that take care to mitigate the interference. That would be closer to 24 Mbit/sec. 
Getting the full spatial multiplexing gain with multiple antennas is dubious in rural type scenarios where there aren't many rich scatterers in the environment. So a more conservative best-case estimate would be closer to 10Mbit/sec per 6MHz channel assuming a multi-antenna deployment using 4 antennas at the customer site."
Sumit Roy of the University of Washington added, 

"Not that straightforward, in terms of direct extrapolation (based on what I *think* you are doing). As you will have seen from the Shannon capacity computations in our work: the link SNR is very spatially varying, depending on the co & adjacent channel interference from nearby TV towers. So this variation in channel quality must be accounted for in any reasonable estimate (so it's not just about channel BW)." 

White space 16 megabits 650


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. 


 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.