WiFi is an existential threat to telco revenue so they are fighting back in many ways. "5G-for-all presents the opportunity to kill free WiFi and instead charge users for every data packet they send or receive," Colin Johnson reports at EE Times. The implications Johnson heard at an Intel event inspired his title, 5G the Free WiFi Killer. The speakers were Verizon VP Bin Shin, SK Telecom CTO Alex Choi and Ericsson VP Paul McNamara. 

Johnson is on target that eviscerating WiFi is a crucial goal of the giant telcos. I'm not as confident as the author that high-powered, all-encompassing home gateways mean the end of free WiFi  The danger is currently unproven but we certainly need to avert the possibility. The more immediate danger is the telcos want to "Enclose" half or more of the WiFi spectrum. An important Wall Street Journal article by Thomas Gryta and Ryan Knutson has made this a top of mind issue in Washington. They conclude with Harold Feld's comment that Wi-Fi is too important to give carriers the ability to slowly strangle it.

50-70% of wireless traffic now goes over WiFi, a figure that will increase as faster WiFi routers become common and more home gateways are configured to share unused bandwidth. The telcos are working in closed industry fora, making a mockery of the U.S. and EU commitment to an open Internet and the "multi-stakeholder."

At 3GPP, with no public participation, they are defining LTE-U/LAA as "LTE spectrum owners only." The system is designed to dedicate 40 MHz channels of current WiFi spectrum to each of the 4 telcos - or more. The telco proposed standard allows a telco to use more than the single 40 MHz channel.  

We badly need to get a consumer voice in these groups. I've raised the issue to Larry Strickling (U.S. Gov) and Kathy Brown (ISOC). vocal supporters of "multi-stakeholder." The decisions being made in these groups will have more impact on consumers than the limited scope of the ITU/ICANN debate. I'm only one voice and I hope more speak up on the importance of the public interest. 
 
 

Much more to come on this story.

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network. It will soon offer a gigabit or close to 30M homes. Thousands of sites are live in Korea; AT&T is going live with mobile, even lacking phones. 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 4X 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.

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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.