henningFCC Chief Technologist Henning Schulzrine startled the engineers at a high level 5G wireless event by predicting a complete turnaround in spectrum policy and licensing.

Instead of "licensing" monopoly use of spectrum, "All new spectrum would be shared." That corresponds to the opinions of nearly all impartial top engineers, but of course is heresy to lobbyists in the EU and U.S.

Shared spectrum is better, but I fear Henning is being optimistic about what the politicians will do.

In the EU, Ottinger is talking instead about lengthening the monopoly terms. Across the globe, regulators are designating 3.5 GHz mostly for monopoly use. In the U.S., the FCC is planning more auctions and possibly rolling back the rules for sharing.

"Share everything" (Henning)

Henning asked me to clarify an earlier version of this article. Sharing does not necessarily mean completely unlicensed, like Wi-Fi. The 3.5 GHz band combines a variety of models. If I have this right, the 3.5 GHz band is divided between "unlicensed," "lightly licensed,' and a limited number of more restrictive licenses. (As well as certain locations and bands that continued to be reserved for the military.) Wi-Fi is good evidence sharing can work, given enough spectrum, but not the only way to share. His comment shouldn't be interpreted to mean it is all going to be like 2.4/5.8 GHz.

No one disputes that some spectrum should be reserved for monopoly use, at least on a regional level. That's important for public safety and (at least for many years) control channels. No one has studied this in depth; my guess is that completely reserved spectrum could be reduced to 20-50 MHz/company, half what most major telcos have today. Beyond that, the carriers can explore for unused spectrum and in almost all likely cases find plenty.

At least 50% of the usable spectrum is fallow today, even in congested cities. See Dennis Roberson's work. This isn't news; I remember Dave Farber holding up an amazing chart more than a decade ago. 

That's exactly what AT&T intends to do with LAA later this year in the Wi-Fi band. Their radios would "listen" to make sure a band is empty, "before talking" on that band.Verizon and Qualcomm testing convinced every engineer I've discussed this with that will work. The current 3GPP rules have problems, including an inappropriate noise floor. That needs to be solved. 

This very open and free sharing is just starting to deploy. It would take 10-15 years to upgrade the networks fully. It would also require some modest "rules of the road." In particular, neither Wi-Fi nor anything else should commonly use 80 MHz or 160 MHz, unless it's clearly free. Stanford Professors Cioffi & Goldsmith in 2014 pointed out the greed in 802.11 ac. LTE-U can have the same problem.

Efficient sharing normally at least doubles wireless capacity and often increases capacity 500% or more.  

dave ask

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The 3.3-4.2 spectrum should be shared, not exclusively used by one company, concludes an important U.S. Defense Innovation Board report. If more wireless broadband is important, sharing is of course right because shared networks can yield far more

It does work! Verizon's mmWave tests over a gigabit in the real world. 
The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro outclasses the best Apples and probably the new Galaxy 10 or Huawei P30 Pro. Optical zoom, three cameras, liquid cooling, Qualcomm 855 and more.
Korea at 400,000 5G May 15. Chinese "pre-commercial" signing customers, 60,000-120,000 base stations in 2019, million+ remarkable soon. 
5G phones Huawei Mate 20, Samsung Galaxy 10, ZTE Nubia, LG V50, and OPPO are all on sale at China Unicom. All cost US$1,000 to 1,500 before subsidy. Xiaomi promises US$600.
Natural monopoly? Vodafone & Telecom Italia to share 5G, invite all other companies to join.
Huawei predicts 5G phones for US$200 in 2021, $300 even earlier
NY Times says "5G is dangerous" is a Russian plot. Really.
Althiostar raised US$114 million for a virtual RAN system in the cloud. Rakuten, Japan's new #4, is using it and invested.
Ireland is proposing a US$3 billion subsidy for rural fibre that will be much too expensive. Politics.
Telefonica Brazil has 9M FTTH homes passed and will add 6M more within two years. Adjusted for population, that's more than the U.S. The CEO publicly urged other carriers to raise prices together.
CableLabs and Cisco have developed Low Latency XHaul (LLX) with 5-15 ms latency for 5G backhaul,  U.S. cable is soon to come in very strong in wireless. Details 
Korea Telecom won 100,000 5G customers in the first month. SK & LG added 150,000 more. KT has 37,500 cells. planning 90% of the country by yearend. 
The Chinese giants expect 60,000 to 90,000 5G cells by the end of 2019.
China Telecom's Yang Xin warns, "Real large-scale deployment of operators' edge computing may be after 2021." Customers are hard to find.
Reliance Jio registered 97.5% 4G availability across India in Open Signal testing. Best in world.

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Welcome On Oct 1, 2019 Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual early results have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. 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.