10B question 230Based on the results of auctions this year in Spain, England, and Korea, the 3.7-4.2 GHz band would go for $10B-$25B. This was little used until 64 antenna Massive MIMO has suddenly made it very valuable. Antennas in higher frequencies can be smaller, and tens of thousands of 64/128 antenna rigs have shipped. The first results are customer speeds in the hundreds of megabits, confirming the trials and models. There's enough spectrum involved that all the telcos could double their spectrum holding.

In Britain, 150 MHz of spectrum went for 1.05B pounds, about US$1.35B. At that rate, 500 MHz would be $3.3B. The U.S. has almost five times Britain's population, so ~US$16B. None of the four UK carriers got more than 50 MHz, less than ideal. Bidding was strong.

In Korea, 280 MHz went for $2.7B. Adjusting for the U.S. population, that would be ~US$30B.

In Spain, 320 MHz went for US$511M. Spain had only three bidders and enough spectrum for all to get 90-100 MHz, the ideal for the band. So there was no competitive bidding and they got it cheap. 

The FCC is considering skipping an auction for the 3.7-4.2 GHz bands, key for 5G. The market cap of Intelsat, a licensee, has gone up from $500M to $3B, just on the hope Pai and Reilly will let this go through.

That's a remarkable price for a company $15B in debt, has declining sales, and has lost $2B in the last four years. 

(The best experts get auction estimates very wrong. I'm not an expert. This is just a simple extrapolation of the prices abroad. To do better requires deep game theory. and even then the accuracy is low. Ask Charlie Ergen.)

For now, I'll leave it to DC reporters like Cecilia Kang and Brian Fung to figure out the reasons the giveaway may go through. (I'm swamped and they are paid to cover this.) What I bring to the discussion is an updated estimate of the value of the spectrum.

The key claim of Intelsat/Verizon and their supporters is that it is crucial to get this spectrum fast to market because the telcos need it soon. B________. Sprint is doing 2.5 GHz, not 3.5-4.2. Verizon is doing 28 GHz, where they have 800 MHz of spectrum. That's enough for more than a decade. AT&T is doing 39 GHz and has 50 MHz low-band unused. T-Mobile is doing interesting things in the shared 3.5 and 4.9 GHz bands, enough for several years or more. So who needs the spectrum so fast? 

Also, the claim giving it away is much faster than an is bogus. The mmWave auctions this fall were organized this year. Intelsat is threatening to tie things up in court if it doesn't get its way. IANAL, but I've read FCC auction documents and I don't think they have a leg to stand on. It's cheap blackmail.

The Reverse Auction saved US$2-4B, a remarkable success. Think if Pai brought in another US$5-15B here. My progressive friends will never forgive him after Net Neutrality but I can respect him for what he achieves. 

There's another US$2-8B to save by bringing the auction lesson to CAF, but I don't think the FCC has enough courage.

dave ask


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.

More newsfeed


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.