CEO McAdam in 2016 carefully said the decision hadn't been made. In fall 2017, he told Wall Street Verizon hasn't budgeted any increased spending for 5G even in 2019. He has good reason to be coy. Verizon and the Euro CEOs constantly use the (often claimed) high spending needed for 5G as a reason for regulators to be weak and governments provide subsidies. NTT DOCOMO CTO Seizo Inoe and many others planning the networks see little if any capex increase.

So I was surprised when I discovered Verizon VP Charla Rath in spring 2016 wrote, "Just as Verizon invested billions to be the first mobile carrier to deploy our world leading  4G LTE network, we plan to do the same for 5G. Sanyogita Shamsunder, Verizon’s Director of Wireless and Technology Strategy, outlined this commitment during the opening panel."

Rath also wrote, "We have already begun field testing 5G, and will launch some level of commercial deployment in 2017." That looks unlikely as I write in November 2017 but they are close.

I probably was the first to say "Verizon is actively building the mmWave network." I inferred from their announced fiber plans that the decision has already been made. There's loads of evidence for that, but what convinced me was Verizon announced a $5-10B fiber build across the country. It would be stupid to spend so much unless they were deploying hundreds of thousands of 5G small cells. The people running Verizon are not stupid. 

Verizon has already deployed hundreds of 5G cells, per the CEO. Unlike most incumbent telcos, they do not cover most of the U.S. In ~70% of the U.S., they see the opportunity to win customers away from the local telco and cableco.

AT&T also intends to go fast on deploying 5G fixed. They see a land grab coming: If Verizon or AT&T builds first, they are likely to win so many customers the other will probably not be able to get to breakeven. 

Surprisingly, AT&T is looking at rural sites. Most assume the short reach of mmWave will limit it to dense areas. But the 8% of the U.S. that can't get cable modems are a very promising target. T would be bringing in 500-1000 meg of 5G fixed to compete against local telcos rarely offering more than 25 meg. In many cases, 3 meg DSL or satellite is the best available.

mmWave actually covers a large area when you have line of sight. (Think tower in the midwest Plains.) Ted Rappaport, The Father of 5G mmWave, demonstrated he could detect a 73 GHz signal 11 kilometers away from their transmitter, a carefully aligned antenna 110 meters above average terrain. 

dave askAugust 2018 Verizon's $20B 5G build is starting to add customers in 2018. Gigabit LTE & Massive MIMO became real in 2017 and enow expanding worldwide. Almost all the other "5G" is mid-band, 70%-90% slower + hype. Europe is mostly pr. The term 5G has been bastardized, unfortunately.

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor. I always want to hear from you, especially if you catch a mistake.

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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.