Dave 20GBPSTelcos report costs going down 40% to 60%. That allows T-Mobile U.S. & Sprint to offer "unlimited" with only a few gotchas. Competition and regulation will determine who is actually served. 

Technology on the market can deliver 10X to 25X at reasonable cost; Weak competition or weak regulation could hold this back. Speeds over 50 megabits with a cap high enough to watch 100 hours/month of HD TV can be delivered in most of the developed world. The engineers can deliver. Marconi Fellow Paulraj tells me Massive MIMO will bring many of the same benefits to most rural areas, including in emerging nations. Extreme rural areas - the last 1-3% - may not be as fortunate.

Giga LTE offers about a gigabit to the cell site. Beginning this year, phones with a good connection will get 100-300 megabits down. Phones on the cell edge and behind walls are seeing a 4X improvement as well. Gig LTE combines more antennas (4x4 MIMO,) more spectrum (60-80 MHz,) and more bits squeezed in (256 QAM.) Gig LTE is five or six times as much as LTE started at and about three times the capacity of most advanced systems in 2016. The meter in the picture showing about one gig at Huawei's BBF in Tokyo Nov 2016 is Gig LTE. Two gig has been demonstrated by British Telecom. Explained for non-engineers here.

Massive MIMO, using as many as 128 antennas, by September 2016 was deployed at 100 cells of Softbank Japan

and by China Mobile. Both told me at the Huawei BBW in Tokyo the results were excellent, and they are moving on thousands. There are many refinements to come.  3X-10X

Half a dozen other technologies are starting to have an impact. For example, Telus CTO Ibrahim Gedeon thinks SON & HetNets make his small cell deployments much more efficient. He tells me S&H may make more difference in the next few years than the more publicized advances. There are plenty of claims of the size of coming improvements but no solid data from the field. The effect will not be small.  

Most of these tools work together, so multiply the impact of each to get a total. Several are deploying in volume in 2017, but upgrading large telco networks takes time. We don't yet know how to get maximum results or integrate the different pieces. The results are already dramatic. Verizon's David Small estimates his costs are going down 40% per year. I have data from Telefonica that implies a 60% improvement last year. 

Most believe it will be four to seven years before we see a large effect in mobile from 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) high frequency. Leading researcher Ted Rappaport expects results sooner. The 20 gigabits at the Huawei demo is exciting, but almost everyone thinks large deployments on mobile will wait until next decade. Giant China Mobile is among the most advanced but only expects 1% of its network upgraded in 2020. Verizon plans to test mmWave fixed to several hundred homes in 2017. mmWave to phones is two to four years away. The advanced technologies I'm discussing here have a bill of materials cost similar to what costs were in 2011. The vendors out with the newest technology hope to get a premium. It may take 2-4 years for the right price to emerge. 

 
 
I define "reasonable cost" as fitting into today's capital spending. I don't yet understand how this will play out in extreme rural areas, where fewer than 50 homes are within reach of backhaul. 
 

dave ask

Newsfeed

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.

 More newsfeed

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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.