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 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. 

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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.