China 5G release photo 230Until today, China's 5G was officially "non-commercial" but building rapidly. The country is set to pass the entire Western world before the previous  Oct.1 launch date.  See 90,000-150,000 Chinese 5G sites go live Octoberfor an earlier report.* Probably for political reasons, Minister Miao Wei just moved up the date.  China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom will build rapidly. They will be joined on the China Railway Towers by China's Radio and Television cable systems.

China Tower has 2.2 million sites and expects the carriers to upgrade most of them in the next few years. Towers and backhaul are in place. The upgrade will only require new radios, usually less than 15% of the cost.  

Huawei, ZTE, and now Datang are ready with as many radios as the companies want to install. My guess is that the government will make available money to speed the build. The likely limiting factor will probably be the time required to train an army of engineers.

Equipment is in plentiful supply. Huawei has shipped 100,000 base stations already and does not need U.S. parts except perhaps for the phones. ZTE is selling around the world. The U.S. dominates the production of FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays,) used to replace several chips in a design. When sales volume goes past ~10,000, FPGAs are normally replaced by custom chips; Huawei is at that level. Where that's not practical, FPGA's can be replaced by a group of chips. In routers and other network equipment, there's room for an additional circuit board. 

A revitalized Datang will be China's 3rd 5G supplier. It was a pioneer in 3G TD-SCDMA but fell behind in 4G. (The company's TDD patents are foundational for 5G.) The government in 2018 merged Datang with Fiberhome, one of the world's largest producers of fibre equipment, which is showcasing the new Datang gear around the world.

 

 

*CWW has a figure of 70,000 this year, Nomura 172,000. The 90-150,000 estimate comes from China Mobile & ZTE, via China Daily. 

dave ask

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CFO John Stephens says AT&T is going to cut capex soon.

Bharti in India has lost 45M customers who did not want to pay the minimum US#2/month. It's shutting down 3G to free some spectrum for 4G. It is cutting capex, dangerous when the 12 gigabytes/month of use continues to rise.

Huawei in 6 days sold 300,000 5G Mate 20s. Delivery begins on 8/16. 

China has over 50,000 upgraded base stations and may have more than 200,000 by yearend 2019. The growth is astonishing and about to accelerate. China will have more 5G than North America and Europe combined for several years.

5G phone prices are down to $580 in China from Oppo. Headed under $300 in 2020 and driving demand.

No one believed me when I wrote in May, 90% of Huawei U.S. purchases can be rapidly replaced and that Huawei would survive and thrive. Financial results are in, with 23% growth and increased phone sales. It is spending $17B on research in 2019, up > 10%. 

5G phones spotted from Sharp and Sony

NTT DOCOMO will begin "pre-commercial service Sept 20 with over 100 live bases. Officially, the commercial start is 2020.

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Welcome  1,800,000 Koreans bought 5G in the first four months. The demand is there, and most of the technology works. 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.