Network Slicing: So far, few will buy (Q)

Network slicing “still remains many years away in most markets. A very complicated undertaking” @DHSchoolar @disruptivedean points out ” I haven’t met a Slice salesperson yet, or a Slice-procurement team.” It will be difficult to monetise.

Telcos tell me they haven’t seen any demand for network slicing except the security people. Regular “best efforts” networks s do a good job for almost all.
Customers so far don’t want to pay for “slices” or QoS.

Three years ago, Henning Schulzrinne warned of disappointment with slicing. “In 3G & 4G, we were told QoS would sell well. It may very well go the same way in 5G.”

Telcos outside China aren’t investing because so far there’s no market.

Don’t Believe The Hype

  • Nothing is a bigger scam than 5G. Latency is little improved from 4G. 5G: It still does nothing important. The 5G Emperor has no clothes.
  • Open RAN will probably be a good thing, but sales will be modest for years. Still many challenges. Nokia & Ericsson blocking essential interop testing.
  • Telco Edge Networks are minuscule outside Asia.
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Hans Vestberg: Liar of the month for false latency claims


Verizon’s “low latency” 5G Edge network is specified at 20-35 ms. Its 4G network averages ~32 ms. That’s an insignificant difference that makes almost no difference to any application. It is not “low latency” nor does it improve the user experience.

For example, I and many others get dizzy in Virtual Reality unless the latency is close to 10 ms. 20-35 ms doesn’t cut it.

Vestberg claimed in 2022 “You cannot do Metaverse without the network that Verizon is building today with low latency.” 20-35 ms doesn’t improve the Metaverse.

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World’s Best 5G Network Starts Building in New York

Gigabit 5G is millimeter wave but the reach is closer to 100 meters than 1000 meters. To get the gigabit speeds reliably, you need a heckuva lot of cells, perhaps every block. Paul Baran showed the way years ago with Richocet but he was ahead of his time.

LinkNYC has just installed its first 32 foot kiosk in the Bronx, designed for Wi-Fi and 5G from up to 4 carriers. True 5G gigabit will usually reach 100-250 meters.

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Maybe Believe: Ones to watch

  • Accelercomm Professor Rob Maunder improves wireless performance through better coding software
  • Tarana Wireless Andrea Goldsmith tells me wireless has plenty of room for improvement. Tarana claims to have done it, with $100 million in sales to prove it.
  • Positron Access works well. It’s a very fast and cheap way to use existing wires to connect fiber to the basement or wireless to the rooftop
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We’re Already Watching All The TV We Want. Traffic growth was clobbered

People mostly are not watching more or higher-bandwidth video.

Video is about 70% of traffic,

Ergo: Unless something crazy happens, traffic will only grow moderately.

I’ve been reporting falling traffic growth rates for years but the 2021 OECD 15% growth still startled me. The likely explanation: people have run out of time to watch more video. In fact, hours watching has actually gone down.

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China reaching 2,000,000 5G Cells

China had 1,968,000 5G base stations at the end of July and should reach 2,000,000 in August. I believe that is more than twice the total in the rest of the world. Users are at 475,000,000, more than the entire rest of the world.

Huawei is pulling ahead in technology, deploying a distributed Massive MIMO system. DM MIMO, also called cell-free, is the next big technological advance. It uses multiple MIMO radios all working together to optimize performance. DM MIMO does more for network builders than anything likely from “6G” in a decade.

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5G Phones Have Taken Over

5G phones are now so cheap that all but the poor are buying them. They still do nothing important but for $0 (Apple) to ~$40 more (Most others, falling) most people don’t want to buy a phone soon to be obsolete.

80-90% of the phones sold in China & Korea are 5G. >70% in the US. Similar figures for Japan, Australia, Canada, and Western Europe, although I don’t have data.

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Soon, Almost Every Mobile Phone Will “Have” to Pay Huawei Royalties

China’s largest tech giant almost doubled its R&D budget over the past half-decade to $22.1 billion in 2021 — more than any company in the world outside America. Bloomberg

2021 R& D (billions) from Bloomberg

Huawei is the driving force behind Sisvel’s Wi-Fi 6 patent pool and will collect a significant % of the 50-60 cents Sisvel is demanding from every phone, Wi-Fi router, etc. That could easily amount to over $100 mi;llion per year. It will be hard to circumvent Sisvel, which also includes Phillips and Mediatek.

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Editorial: New York Should Build Robert Sokota & Nick Colvin’s World’s Best Wireless Every Block Network

Put a small cell on every block in New York and you’ve built the best wireless network in the world. 25 years ago, Paul Baran was ahead of his time putting Ricochet modems on every block of my New York neighborhood, some on light poles.

The time is now ripe. Robert Sokota. Nick Colvin, CityBridge, and ZenFi have now begun putting 32-foot kiosks around the city. They have a city franchise, a demo unit in Queens, and $175 million to go to work.

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Huawei, China Top Euro Patents

DPMA, the official German patent office, finds “China more and more innovative in digital technologies. In the promising field of digital communication technology’, in which, among other things, inventions in connection with the new 5G mobile communications standard are recorded, the country with 4,308 applications (+ 6.8%) even overtook the USA, which had 4,115 applications.”

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$148 Motorola/Lenovo 5G Phone

$148 Motorola 5G

50-megapixel flagship image 5000mAh large battery 6.8-inch 120Hz high refresh screen dual-SIM Motorola/Lenovo g51 on sale for 618. There’s a huge inventory buildup at Chinese phonemakers so I expect some great prices.

Honor, the Huawei spinoff, Xiaomi/Redmi, &Oppo have $177 models. Realme offers a $190 unit.

5G phones have won. > 70% in US, UK, and Japan. >50% worldwide. Little saving buying 4G so 5G is taking over. It still does nothing important.

Cell-Free Distributed Massive MIMO bibliography

CF-DMM is the next big thing in telecom, often doubling or tripling capacity in the next few years. We need a good non-technical introduction even if I have to write it myself.

The most comprehensive source is Foundations of User-Centric Cell-Free Massive MIMO by top researchers Özlem Tuğfe Demir, Emil Björnson, and Luca Sanguinetti. It’s a 316 page book you can download for free The introduction does a good job explaining how mobile networks work today and how Cell-Free would change them.

Artemis/pCell has put together this list of over 100 articles.

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Will Huang Yuhong Create “Bell Labs with Chinese Characteristics?”


Huang Yuhong, smiling out at you at left, has just taken charge of the China Mobile Research Institute, one of the top 3 telco labs in the world. She will have the support and funding to make it the best in the world.

I met Huang first at a 2017 conference and she provided me with a major scoop. I approached the CEO of China Mobile with a question about Massive MIMO. He looked down the row and said, “Ask the woman there. She’s our expert.”

Recently, her many public comments have established her as China’s leading expert.

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Profits to shareholders before investment

T-Mobile US sees an enormous jump in cash as it reduces capex after the mid-band build. CEO Mike Sievert says:

I mean the cash is there in our plan. And at ’23-’24 and ’25, as we said in last year, we saw our way and see our way to $65 billion in cash flow in those years. And so the cash is there in the plan. 

Where will the money go? Sievert:

we see an aspiration for $60 billion in buybacks in ’23-’24 and ’25 

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T-Mobile cutting capex in 2023

“2023 capital will be lower,” CEO Mike Sievert told investors. Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, and AT&T intend to reduce capex. Japanese giant NTT has already cut capex despite the 5G buildout.

TMO was first to widespread mid-band, more than doubling capacity. Mid-band Massive MIMO yields more capacity than most telcos can sell into late in the decade.

Over-capacity, not network buildout, is the biggest problem telcos face today.

From Sievert

This year is sort of a peak capital year with well over $13 billion in capital, but it will go down now to support this business plan because we’re through the major part of the integration, ’23 capital will be lower. And you start to see EBITDA will be higher and you start to see the cash unlock start to take off.

China Mobile FTTH Decline. How close is peak landline?

China Mobile lost half a million FTTH customers in December, 2021.

Dec 2021Total: 240,106,000Change: -459,000

As wireless gets better, more people will decide to go wireless-only. T-Mobile tests at 50 Mbps up, 90 Mbps down at my house, much faster than cable on the upstream. I’d like to switch. That;s more than enough speed for 95% of people who are not heavy downloaders.

US landline broadband will almost certainly decline over the next 5 years.

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Gigabit 6 GHz Fixed Wireless This Year? Qualcomm, Cambium Networks, Nextlink think so

There are 1,200 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the US around 6 GHz. That dwarfs previously available spectrum and is enough, for now, to dedicate 160 MHz to an application. Nextlink, Cambium Networks, and Qualcomm did a successful field test of FWA.

Everyone’s dreaming of a share of the $42 billion in BEAD money. It’s geared to fiber, but wireless with true gigabit speeds also qualifies. The “up to” 1 Gbps won money from RDOF but is unlikely to average even 500 Mbps.

The 6 GHz band is unproven but likely to reach a true gigabit. Cambium Networks and Nextlink are optimistic about field deployments in 2022. Nextlink intends to go for BEAD funding.

Sakid Ahmed of Cambium writes me “Preliminary tests were done with two dish-like receivers with a 4×4 antenna. Total bandwidth for the access point would be in the 3.5 range Gbps with MU-MIMO involved.”

At first thought, 3.5 Gbps doesn’t seem likely to reliably offer 1 Gbps to many customers. However, few people use much more than 20 Mbps, much less anything close to a gigabit. 10 Mbps is enough for 2 HD TVs and anything you are likely to do on the web except giant downloads. Gigabit cable has proven very reliable with very high oversubscription.

I’d expect to be within 10% of the gigabit > 90% of the time if the network is robust. Delivering a gigabit to most customers requires dense cells, which can be very expensive. Without enough cells, many customers would not get the gigabit.

One of the biggest mistakes of my career was assuring Malcolm Turnbull that vectored VDSL would deliver 100 Mbps. When he became Australia’s Prime Minister, he switched the National Broadband Network from FTTH to vectoring. A few years later, we discovered many homes received less than 50 Mbps. Customers close to the DSLAM did receive 100 Mbps but NBN did not install enough DSLAMs. Speeds were much lower for those further away from the DSLAM.

We’ll know more when there are more results from the field.

Here’s the pr

Real-World Testing by Nextlink Internet Proves Widespread Gigabit Fixed Wireless Deployments Will Soon Hit the Market

HUDSON OAKS, Texas – Nextlink Internet announces the results of 6 GHz spectrum testing, clearing the way for more gigabit fixed wireless deployments nationwide. The industry is anxiously awaiting the availability of the 6 GHz spectrum and Nextlink took the initiative to field test fixed wireless technology. Utilizing an FCC experimental license, and Cambium Networks fixed wireless access points and subscriber modules utilizing Qualcomm® Networking Pro Series Platforms, Nextlink achieved actual throughput of over 1 Gbps download and 500 Mbps upload to each subscriber module under full load, utilizing a 160 MHz channel at 2 miles.

“We are on a mission to provide high-quality internet access everywhere we serve. This gives us another tool in the toolkit to do just that,” said Bill Baker, Founder and CEO of Nextlink Internet.  “Upon full commercial deployment later this year, we look forward to rolling out gigabit speed plans in the entirety of our existing fixed wireless service network plus our prospective network expansion for the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program.  Ultimately, this expansion of gigabit fixed wireless will cover over four million of households and businesses.”