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First, a few updates.
Feb 24 Xi Jinping told the Politburo “To prop up support for … 5G networks and industrial Internet.” China Unicom and China Telecom committed to deploying 250,000 sites between July & September.
To put that in perspective, in 3 months the two companies, working together, will deploy about as many sites as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have, in total, 4G & 5G. China Mobile is set for another 200,000. Q4 construction will raise the total. 5G will be part of China’s massive stimulus.
There’s a huge unknown in the U.S. The Sprint spectrum is golden. 2.5 GHz has enough reach to cover ?80% of the U.S. without adding towers. The budget, manpower, towers & equipment is available. If CTO Neville Ray moves quickly, AT&T and Verizon will have to follow and the U.S. will be a strong #2 in 5G subscribers. If the merger process holds things up, this may be in 2021. Meanwhile, low-band is proving slower than 4G. It shouldn’t be called 5G but consumers don’t know the difference.
Feb 22 Eir now offers 5G to 25% of Ireland. Why are DT & BT so far behind? Apple upped chip orders by 50%. With the $399 iPhone and 5G in the fall, Apple expects a blowout year. Ronan Dunne of Verizon expects a rush to 5G with the iPhone, which should speed up deployments.
Feb 7 If production gets back to normal by the end of Feb, the natural drop in 5G subs will be 10-15 million. China has a large economic stimulus planned. If 5G is included, the lost ground could be recovered. But the best epidemiologists are not sure the pandemic won’t continue longer. If so, supply chains could break and the world go into recession. The slowdown in 5G – and much else – could be severe.
Korea added only 313,000 5G users in December, half the August total. It missed the 5 million year end 2019 goal. The 15 million projection for the end of 2020 is now uncertain.
Verizon has delayed its 5G mmWave buildout by 1-3 years. Viavi, whose test equipment is used in most 5G networks, sees very limited growth in 5G networks in 2020 outside of Asia.
5G offers few benefits to consumers, who may be becoming disillusioned. It’s reasonable to reduce the surprise-free projection from 210 million to 195 million, but the data is not yet clear.
January 27 Coronavirus has much of China in lockdown. We all hope and pray that the number of infected peaks rapidly. If not, it could have a profound effect on 5G phone production and coverage expansion. Update Feb 2 The NY Times now estimates over 100,000 people are infected, with only the most severely infected showing up in the official counts.
Except for China and Korea, no country has discussed firm plans for 2020. Almost no company has public projections, either of deployment or subscriber count. To create my scenarios, I put together the best available information, especially on deployment. Improvements always welcome. email@example.com
Where will the customers be?
China is almost certain to have 150 million, likely ten times as many as any other country. South Korea expects 30% of the population to subscribe, about 15 million.
Almost all other nations will be much lower, despite the near-universal claims of companies they are moving ahead rapidly.
For an overview of 5G in 2020, 5G 2020 Predictions: Surprising and surprise free 195-210 million, Low 165M, High 265M It’s a 5,000 word analysis report. This country by country adds to the analysis. Continue reading