In 2020, Edge Clouds can reduce latency to about 15-25 ms in 5G, ~10 ms more in LTE.  Today's 4G LTE networks take 30 ms to 70 ms and more. Everything we do today works on  4G, of course. Some apps will benefit substantially from lower latencies, especially gaming. Some new apps will develop when lower latency is available. Multi-player Pokemon looks great.

To write Strategies for 5G, I needed to understand the impact of Edge Clouds. The first half dozen experts provided me with about seven opinions, often conflicting, They couldn't even agree on a definition. After a month of research and two dozen more conversations, I am less clueless. I divided the different Edge proposals into five levels. 

Level 1 will require 1 ms 5G air latency, which is still in the labs. The 5G deploying is about 10 ms.

Level 2 is close to the cell, which adds 5-10 ms to the air latency. The first unit of the type is now installed in Chicago by Vapor IO. They promise nationwide coverage by 2020.  

Level 3 is further back in the carrier network and a little slower. Deutsche Telekom's system, mostly constructed, expects 20-25 ms.  That's the supply side.

To determine demand, I put together this table of likely apps. Everything will be a little crisper but few so far will pay for that.

The first group work fine in LTE, although gamers do love speed. The biggest factor here is video, 60%-80% of the traffic. Channel changes and directory lookups will go faster, but once the video begins the difference is minimal. My Netflix works fine today at 4K. Connected cars, IoT, Telehealth and others have little need for low latency.

The second group definitely benefit from the capacity or speed boost. Fixed wireless is the major one here. It works fine in 4G, but in volume draws a lot of data. Verizon hopes to sell 8 million lines by 2023. It will need capacity. AR/VR/SR will definitely improve with 15-20 ms latency. Some think lower. Multiplayer Pokemon is slow on today's networks and wants the speed. The third group would benefit from low latency, but the volume will likely take years to develop. The reliability improvements are scheduled URLLC, several years away.

Politicians and pundits often refer to bogus use cases. Don Butler of Ford reminds us that "autonomous cars do not need a connection." Otherwise, what would they do when they lose the signal.  Connecting cars for entertainment and information is becoming big but is less demanding.  Even more ridiculous is the claim 5G is needed for remote surgery. Nearly all remote surgery will be performed in an office with a landline, usually high quality. Unless a surgeon is operating from the beach, wireless isn't needed at all.

Corrections and improvements are very welcome.


  Works in LTE? Lower latency good Improved by Edge
Video yes Not when streaming  
Connected cars yes little advantage currently  
IoT, most yes Works on 4G  
Advanced gaming yes Really likes speed  
Telehealth yes    
Fast access to cloud services yes unclear  
5G could be important      
Fixed Wireless yes
Verizon going wide, others limited
AR/VR/SR Only some Usually Probably
Security operations unknown apparently unknown
Industrial plant control ? Bosch, BMW, and others seek spectrum in Germany Yes, on site
Facilities for competitors yes   Edge
Remote-vehicle control ? ? ?
Live video production yes ? ?
Realtime processing   When needed When needed
Agriculture ?    
High frequency trading no yes yes
Limited at least for several years
Drone control probably    
Reliability unproven unproven unproven
Autonomous cars      
Remote surgery      

dave ask


Vivo is selling new the iQOO 5G premium quality phone for US$536.

Lei Jun Xiaomi "5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020"5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020" I say sooner

Verizon CEO Ronan Dunne: >1/2 VZ 5G "will approximate to a good 4G service" Midband in "low hundreds" Mbps

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 USS2/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 16 days sold 1,000,000 5G Mate 20s.  

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.

 More newsfeed


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.