US SpectrumPaul Milgrom's auction design keeps everyone guessing. Anyone who tells you she is sure of the outcome doesn't know very much. I was so wrong the last time I'm not even trying this time. Wall Streeters I respect, including Craig Moffett and John Hodulik,  believe the phone companies + Comcast will find it very hard to bid more than $30B-$40B.

That will let them split about 70 MHz except in a few big cities if no one plays the spoiler. AT&T 4G customers run in 20 MHz. That would be a good outcome for the carriers. The last auction had prices about three times as high, presumably because Charlie Ergen made an attempt to corner the market.

AT&T has 40 MHz of completely empty spectrum ready to put to work, enough to create a Verizon-sized network. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said Verizon bid so high last time they could have built the same capacity for a third of what they spent.

Knowing who the other bidders are in a particular part of a complex auction enables developing a strategy that may bring down the total proceeds. Therefore, an auction designer often tries to maintain some mystery about who's who and what's what. Several have said this two-way auction is the most complex ever designed. Some call it fiendish.

Tim Farrar, an extraordinarily perceptive observer, warns about unknowns, then goes on to say:

"Comcast may well emerge from the auction with a significant national footprint of roughly 20MHz of spectrum, potentially spending $7B-$10B. In addition, unless the forward auction drops to only 70MHz being sold, all four national bidders could largely achieve their goals, spending fairly similar amounts except in New York and Los Angeles, where one or two of these players are likely to miss out. UPDATE (8/30): Bidding levels in New York and Los Angeles dropped dramatically in Round 25 (to 10 and 8 blocks respectively), with total bidding units placed (2.096M) now below the supply of licenses (2.177M) in Stage 1. This very likely means that DISH has given up. [Convergence] probably not achieved until the $30B-$35B range … with only 70MHz being sold in the forward auction at the end of the day."

In other words, nothing much changes.

dave ask

Newsfeed

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

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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.