In 2020, Edge Clouds can reduce latency to about 15-25 ms in 5G, ~10 ms more in LTE.  Today's 4G LTE networks take 30 ms to 70 ms and more. Everything we do today works on  4G, of course. Some apps will benefit substantially from lower latencies, especially gaming. Some new apps will develop when lower latency is available. Multi-player Pokemon looks great.

To write Strategies for 5G, I needed to understand the impact of Edge Clouds. The first half dozen experts provided me with about seven opinions, often conflicting, They couldn't even agree on a definition. After a month of research and two dozen more conversations, I am less clueless. I divided the different Edge proposals into five levels. 

Level 1 will require 1 ms 5G air latency, which is still in the labs. The 5G deploying is about 10 ms.

Level 2 is close to the cell, which adds 5-10 ms to the air latency. The first unit of the type is now installed in Chicago by Vapor IO. They promise nationwide coverage by 2020.  

Level 3 is further back in the carrier network and a little slower. Deutsche Telekom's system, mostly constructed, expects 20-25 ms.  That's the supply side.

To determine demand, I put together this table of likely apps. Everything will be a little crisper but few so far will pay for that.

The first group work fine in LTE, although gamers do love speed. The biggest factor here is video, 60%-80% of the traffic. Channel changes and directory lookups will go faster, but once the video begins the difference is minimal. My Netflix works fine today at 4K. Connected cars, IoT, Telehealth and others have little need for low latency.

The second group definitely benefit from the capacity or speed boost. Fixed wireless is the major one here. It works fine in 4G, but in volume draws a lot of data. Verizon hopes to sell 8 million lines by 2023. It will need capacity. AR/VR/SR will definitely improve with 15-20 ms latency. Some think lower. Multiplayer Pokemon is slow on today's networks and wants the speed. The third group would benefit from low latency, but the volume will likely take years to develop. The reliability improvements are scheduled URLLC, several years away.

Politicians and pundits often refer to bogus use cases. Don Butler of Ford reminds us that "autonomous cars do not need a connection." Otherwise, what would they do when they lose the signal.  Connecting cars for entertainment and information is becoming big but is less demanding.  Even more ridiculous is the claim 5G is needed for remote surgery. Nearly all remote surgery will be performed in an office with a landline, usually high quality. Unless a surgeon is operating from the beach, wireless isn't needed at all.

Corrections and improvements are very welcome.


  Works in LTE? Lower latency good Improved by Edge
Video yes Not when streaming  
Connected cars yes little advantage currently  
IoT, most yes Works on 4G  
Advanced gaming yes Really likes speed  
Telehealth yes    
Fast access to cloud services yes unclear  
5G could be important      
Fixed Wireless yes
Verizon going wide, others limited
AR/VR/SR Only some Usually Probably
Security operations unknown apparently unknown
Industrial plant control ? Bosch, BMW, and others seek spectrum in Germany Yes, on site
Facilities for competitors yes   Edge
Remote-vehicle control ? ? ?
Live video production yes ? ?
Realtime processing   When needed When needed
Agriculture ?    
High frequency trading no yes yes
Limited at least for several years
Drone control probably    
Reliability unproven unproven unproven
Autonomous cars      
Remote surgery      

dave ask


The 3.3-4.2 spectrum should be shared, not exclusively used by one company, concludes an important U.S. Defense Innovation Board report. If more wireless broadband is important, sharing is of course right because shared networks can yield far more

It does work! Verizon's mmWave tests over a gigabit in the real world. 
The $669 OnePlus 7 Pro outclasses the best Apples and probably the new Galaxy 10 or Huawei P30 Pro. Optical zoom, three cameras, liquid cooling, Qualcomm 855 and more.
Korea at 400,000 5G May 15. Chinese "pre-commercial" signing customers, 60,000-120,000 base stations in 2019, million+ remarkable soon. 
5G phones Huawei Mate 20, Samsung Galaxy 10, ZTE Nubia, LG V50, and OPPO are all on sale at China Unicom. All cost US$1,000 to 1,500 before subsidy. Xiaomi promises US$600.
Natural monopoly? Vodafone & Telecom Italia to share 5G, invite all other companies to join.
Huawei predicts 5G phones for US$200 in 2021, $300 even earlier
NY Times says "5G is dangerous" is a Russian plot. Really.
Althiostar raised US$114 million for a virtual RAN system in the cloud. Rakuten, Japan's new #4, is using it and invested.
Ireland is proposing a US$3 billion subsidy for rural fibre that will be much too expensive. Politics.
Telefonica Brazil has 9M FTTH homes passed and will add 6M more within two years. Adjusted for population, that's more than the U.S. The CEO publicly urged other carriers to raise prices together.
CableLabs and Cisco have developed Low Latency XHaul (LLX) with 5-15 ms latency for 5G backhaul,  U.S. cable is soon to come in very strong in wireless. Details 
Korea Telecom won 100,000 5G customers in the first month. SK & LG added 150,000 more. KT has 37,500 cells. planning 90% of the country by yearend. 
The Chinese giants expect 60,000 to 90,000 5G cells by the end of 2019.
China Telecom's Yang Xin warns, "Real large-scale deployment of operators' edge computing may be after 2021." Customers are hard to find.
Reliance Jio registered 97.5% 4G availability across India in Open Signal testing. Best in world.

More newsfeed


Welcome On Oct 1, 2019 Verizon turned on the first $20B 5G mmWave network with extraordinary hopes. The actual early results have been dismal. Good engineers tell me that will change. 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.