Top Wall Streeter follows the evidence. Verizon has said nothing about definite plans and refuses to confirm anything. I knew I was taking a risk last month when I reported they were going ahead on the largest 5G network this side of China. An error on something this big would really hurt my reputation. I went ahead because Lowell McAdam and team are experienced and very smart. Their actions are carefully planned.

Verizon would not be spending $4-7B on fiber backhaul unless they were putting $10's of billions of gear in the field. Moffett and Del Deo confirm that $1B spent of fiber implies an investment about five times greater when labor and other costs are added.

Verizon would have bought some spectrum in the auction unless they had alternate plans to add a great deal of capacity. One report has speeds on the Verizon network falling 14% since they went unlimited. Wireless growth had been falling, but with "unlimited" people aren't switching to Wi-Fi as much. The evidence is early but the trend pretty clear.

No one, not even Verizon, can offer reliable coast estimates on the 5G small cell build. There is simply no data. 

Estimates range from 150-500 homes served per cell. Verizon intended a modest trial of mmWave in 2017, mostly in suburban areas in Massachusetts. Suddenly, a few months ago. Verizon expanded trials to 11 cities with very different building patterns. They need the information for planning.

We do know that the likely relative cost of a 5G network has gone down dramatically in the last 18 months or so. Inoe of NTT DOCOMO is a primary source. Using multiple antennas to focus the signal (beamforming) is working well. Ericsson has done some testing with impressive results.

What we don't know is whether the beamforming and other improvements yield an extraordinary increase in the number of homes that can be served. Chet Kanoja of Starry believes he can serve enough customers from each node to make a profit at $50 all included for 200/200 wireless service.That implies a high number of homes servable.

Even if we knew costs, the financial model will be very uncertain until we know how many customers will subscribe at what price. Verizon is telling the street they expect to win something like 30% of cable customers. That seems high to me, at east without prohibitively high customer acquisition costs. Cable is now 50-70 megabits for standard service, more than enough for most people.

Verizon can justify the network expense in many ways, including creating a bleak outlook for competitors. 5G mmWave is likely a competition killer. Verizon's biggest problem is competition is eroding the traditionally massive margins they and AT&T have maintained for almost a decade.

D/M  raise doubts about the economics of building one mmWave network, much less threeor four.

 

 

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.