#10 Vestberg of Verizon: "2G to 3G, probably 10x better to handle data and 3G to 4G 10x at least. And minimum, I would say, 4G to 5G is the same."

"Will we be able to keep up with wireless growth?" I asked Hans Vestberg back when D.C. was screaming spectrum crisis. "Yes we will. I'm confident human ingenuity will deliver what we need," he replied. "That's always been true in wireless."

Years later, wireless speeds worldwide are much higher; congestion in the developed world remains an exception. Telcos continue spending $billions on advertising to find enough customers to fill their nets.

Without much more spectrum or many more cells, improved technology alone will cover likely demand until 2024 or 2026. (My calculation.) Putting to use currently fallow spectrum and modestly more density, wireless networks are good until 2030 or later.

Meanwhile, most telcos, in most locations, will continue to have more capacity than they can sell. The talk about "shortages" and "crises" is deeply uninformed (most) or coming from the 2+2=5 gang of lobbyists.

What Vestberg said confirms what I heard from Paulraj of Stanford in 2014. He believed MIMO alone will yield a 50-100x improvement. Vint Cerf, Henry Samueli of Broadcom, and Andrea Goldsmith generally agreed at other Marconi events.

U.S. telcos spend $2B per year advertising because they need customers to fill their network. Verizon actually has been cutting capex but moved to "unlimited" in 2017 with minimal friction. In Germany, DT is actually adding LTE to DSL routers to speed things up, because they have spare wireless spectrum.

Of course it's not that simple, Verizon itself is actively densifying with mmWave small cells and investing $billions in fiber for backhaul. Vestberg sees that as part of an effort to reduce costs by $10B/year.

 Related articles on designing networks

The Troika - Primary Wireless Capacity Tools

More antennas, more spectrum, more cells are the three major tools for adding capacity.  Adding antennas is usually the cheapest choice in 2018. Nearly every telco is going to four (4x4 MIMO.) Adding spectrum is very attractive when you have some unused but expensive if you have to buy it. Adding cells was the approach before LTE-A in 2014 permitted aggregation. Tower building has almost stopped in the developed world. Any upgrade should include 256 QAM, more bits per Hz.  More  http://bit.ly/STroila

Eightfold Way - More Capacity Tools

4x4 and Massive MIMO for antennas, CA & mmWave for spectrum, and small cells are primary, But also consider: HetNets and SON for interference reduction between cells;  sharing 3.5 and Wi-Fj spectrum; full-duplex for more upstream (soon); move objects with narrowband IoT;  better antennas in phones and base stations; power tweaks such as HPUE; and more. Cloud control to reduce interference looks powerful. more http://bit.ly/8foldway

NGMN - Big Telcos Future Roadmap

20 top telcos banded together to set a common path for the next thirty years. China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and many others have now produced the NGMN 5G End-to-End Architecture . The 36 pages are a blueprint of how the telcos want the future. This is the antithesis of the Internet model, a network of networks connected but operating independently. Implicitly, everything would be under the control of the telcos. It's based on everyone having common QoS control. more http://bit.ly/Bellheads

 

 

 

And adding also, I would say, shared spectrum like the CBRS, the 3.5 gigahertz, which is a shared spectrum in the U.S. soil. So we're going to use that as well. So I think that, that combination puts on a good trajectory to handle our traffic, including then the densification and including the technology advancement that is coming. So -- now remember, every technology, I mean,  So you have the step changes of technology improvement when you change technology. So with the portfolio of tools that I have, I think we're in a good position.

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 

-------------------

 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.