28 GHz is the most popular band of millimetre wave high-frequency spectrum. It was generally little used in the U.S. but now Verizon plans to pass 30 million homes in the first phase of the buildout. Europe chose 26 GHz because satellites were using 28 GHz. There is little gear available other than for 26-30 GHz. Verizon controls 800 MHz of the band in the U.S.

39 GHz, some AT&T controlled, requires 50% more antennas than 28 GHz and is not as popular. AT&T cutbacks in mmWave mean 39 GHz mostly will be on the shelf for years.

60 GHz, shared in the U.S., was developed by Intel as WiGig but didn't find a market. CCS, Facebook, Qualcomm, and others are reviving it, especially for backhaul. The FCC has allocated 14 GHz. With enough very small antennas, performance looks good.

Other bands above 15 GHz lack equipment or supporters, so are years away. The U.S. FCC is about to auction 24 GHz.

Low and mid-band

3.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz is the emerging new band, with enough available spectrum for several companies to expect the ideal 100 MHz.

Over $10 billion of auctions are completed or coming soon, including Korea, Spain, and the UK. Until Massive MIMO reached production in 2016, these bands didn't have enough reach for most practical purposes. With MM, they have become prime, although phones are few. 

2.5 GHz to 3.0 GHz has seen limited use until recently but now is the core of Sprint's network buildout. Performance is much improved with Massive MIMO.

2.3 GHz is also now coming into wider use, including at AT&T.

1.8 GHz to 2.1 GHz have been primary bands in 3G & 4G. They will be re-farmed for 5G as available. 4x4 MIMO is very effective, but Massive MIMO less so. As frequencies get lower, antennas get larger and sometimes impractical. These bands are designated FDD, which severely limits performance.

600 MHz to 1 GHz are ideal 4G bands with excellent reach and indoor coverage. Add NR software, and these frequencies become "5G," The antennas are larger and FDD does not work well for Massive MIMO.

Why many engineers consider only high frequencies 5G  

Until late 2017 only mmWave was considered 5G, including in the ITU IMT-2020 definition. Theoretical peak speeds are up to 20 gigabits, although networks like Verizon top out at 5-7 gigabits. The speed is due to the large amount of spectrum available. 5G is designed to use 400 MHz in high bands; Verizon has 800 MHz.

About a year ago, the marketing people took over. They wanted to call everything 5G and pushed through the 3GPP standards group a definition of 5G that included all bands as long as a modest software tweak (NR) was included. Suddenly, even the lowest frequencies in active use - T-Mobile's 600 MHz in the U.S. - could be called "5G." The "NR" software adds only a little performance compared to 4G using the same frequency and antennas. These bands are best considered 4G-like. Whether called 4G or 5G, these bands use a maximum of 100 MHz and peak at ~ 2 gigabits.

Fortunately, 4G reaches well into the hundreds of megabits to typical users and has enough capacity to meet projected needs well into next decade.


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.