AT&T, Verizon, & most big carriers want the vendor flexibility of software-defined networking, NFV, & open source. Nokia's strategy is to sell everything "end-to-end." In a stunning financial call, Ravi Suri slapped in the face many of his largest customers, 13 times calling for end-to-end. He makes the argument that a single vendor taking care of everything will have better results. That's not unreasonable, but almost the whole industry is going in the opposite direction.

Suri is remarkably candid about how this lets him squeeze customers on price. 

"Our end-to-end portfolio shows its power here, as well, as we are able to ask for offsets for any concessions that we make."

While AT&T's John Donovan is telling investors  he wants the opposite

"More than 55% of our network functions were virtualized at the end of 2017, and we're well on our way to meet or exceed our goal of 75% virtualized by 2020. These and other cost management initiatives have helped drive 13 straight quarters of cost reductions in our technology and infrastructure group."

T-Mobile's $3.5B deal with Nokia implies CTO Neville Ray doesn't share that goal.

Monica Alleven noted in 2016, "T-Mobile mostly mum on SDN/NFV activities." Neville went on to tell Sue Marek, "Modern Core Makes SDN Less Urgent." Ray is right SDN/NFV is over-hyped, but results are real. Vendor lock-in can be very dangerous.

Randall Stephenson was at AT&T when Nokia's predecessor Alcatel thought they could charge an extra $B on U-Verse, claiming AT&T had ordered changes. AT&T countered that the extra work was included in the original deal and the system didn't work without it. U-Verse was two years late and Alcatel was nearly cut out of many $billions in future contract. 

Second sources are a good idea.

dave askAugust 2018 Verizon's $20B 5G build is starting to add customers in 2018. Gigabit LTE & Massive MIMO became real in 2017 and enow expanding worldwide. Almost all the other "5G" is mid-band, 70%-90% slower + hype. Europe is mostly pr. The term 5G has been bastardized, unfortunately.

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor. I always want to hear from you, especially if you catch a mistake.

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 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.