Korea building 230Ted Rappaport pointed me to Jerry Pi's paper from 2011, one of the very earliest contributions to 5G mmWave. Pi wrote An introduction to millimeter-wave mobile broadband systems when was at Samsung. He writes, "The first publication is a patent application in 2010. As you know, Samsung was the first to show a 28 GHz 5G demo to the world in 2013, while most other companies just started to look into this idea. In my view this certainly helped Samsung establish its technology and product leadership in 5G and grow its 5G business."

Samsung's leadership in wireless research is paying off big time, with Samsung now supplying Verizon. Samsung's showcase customer is Reliance Jio in India, now with 225 million 4G subscribers after only two years. Jio and China's 344M fiber home lines connected (not passed) are the two most spectacular achievements in my 20 years reporting broadband.

In 2012, Samsung became true believers in mmWave and put hundreds of engineers to work. (Ted visited and presented to them.) The complexity of chips and networks today is astonishing. An effort like Samsung, Qualcomm, or Ericsson involves thousands of engineers and billions of dollars. 

It wasn't until Ted's paper Millimeter Wave Mobile Communications for 5G Cellular: It Will Work! in 2013 that most of the industry took notice and went to work. Ted's just won an Armstrong Award.

Pi went on to be CTO of Straight Path, which was sold to Verizon for US$3 billion. He did very well and his Linkedin profile now lists him as "retired."

 

 

Mobile communication has been one of the most successful technology innovations in modern history. The combination of technology breakthroughs and attractive value proposition has made mobile communication an indispensable part of life for 5 billion people. Due to the increasing popularity of smart phones and other mobile data devices such as netbooks and ebook readers, mobile data traffic is experiencing unprecedented growth. Some predictions indicate that mobile data will grow at 108 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) [1] with over a thousandfold increase over the next 10 years. In order to meet this exponential growth, improvements in air interface capacity and allocation of new spectrum are of paramount importance.

 

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.