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 https://arxiv.org/pdf/2108.02541.pdf. 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.”

Silicon for Chips in Good Supply

Ford is still limiting production because of a chip shortage, but Tim Cook of Apple and Christiano Amon of Qualcomm are both saying the problem is mostly resolved.

Silicon wafer shipments in 2021 increased 14%, about three times the economic growth rate. The chip foundries reported a similar 15% production increase.

The chart at left, from Sravan Kundojjala of Strategy Analytics, shows that China’s SMIC shipments increased 19%, measured by silicon volume. Taiwan’s TSMC shipments increased 14%.

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QQ Adds Unreal: Tencent, Epic want to own the Metaverse

Facebook wants to own the Metaverse, thinking that the Internet will migrate to Meta. Apple & Microsoft are asserting claims. Tencent and the Chinese now are jumping in, bigtime.

Tencent QQ is offering 560 million monthly users Super QQ Show. a 3D social and gaming space. It’s supported by a version of Epic Games Unreal Engine, a primary creation tool for games that also supports a metaverse environment.

The principal author of Unreal, Tim Sweeney, has crafted a graphics engine powerful enough for the latest Matrix film. Indulge yourself for a few minutes. Skip to 2:30 in this video and let ‘er run.

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US Wireless in 1 Chart: About equal

Raymond James

The three US carriers now have more capacity than they can sell for years. Verizon and T-Mobile are now actively selling fixed wireless, something they wouldn’t do unless that had plenty of unused spectrum. Verizon “capacity margin” has been increasing for years, and mid-band will easily double capacity. (Below)

AT&T’s purchase of mid-band spectrum brought it to parity with Verizon. T-Mobile has perhaps 15% more, insignificant when very few cells are ever congested.

This useful chart from Raymond James, courtesy of Mike Dano, shows roughly equal bars. (Larger below) New Street estimates that T-Mobile has more cell sites, 85,000 compared to ~70,000 at the others. US telcos don’t regularly release cell site counts, so these are estimates.

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Need to know Edge: No one is buying so no one is building (except China, Amazon, Google, Microsoft & data centers)

In 2019, I thought Edge would be in the telcos

Verizon, DT, Telefonica and other telcos were excited about building Edge servers for low latency. But none of them are installing many outside of China. (So far). Verizon has postponed indefinitely its planned rollout of a thousand Edge servers. Despite brave talk, its “Edge” is mostly press releases and not low latency.

But once the automakers gave up on controlling cars from outside servers, they couldn’t find customers willing to pay. Connected cars are ubiquitous and now come with 5G. But you don’t need low latency if the auto does the driving.

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Xiaomi is Much More Than Cheap Phones

Loop LiquidCool

Xiaomi is at or close to the top in the smartphone business in India, Russia, and much of Europe. They offer excellent phones at prices much cheaper than Apple & Samsung. They are investing $billions in research and have 14,000 researchers. It’s paying off. The picture at left is Xiaomi’s new Tesla valve, which they claim is a major advance in phone cooling. (Below.)

I also wanted to show this illustration of the extent of Xiaomi’s product ambitions. Besides obvious line extensions like smart watches, Xiaomi is building a factory for 300,000 electric cars. Other products marketing in China and soon elsewhere include refrigerators, light bulbs, AIoT routers, and over 5 million electric scooters.

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Beijing: 47,000 5G Bases, 1 ms Fiber Ring

Beijing, a city of 22 million people, has more 5G cells than the entire United States, with 10 times the population. All are 100 MHz+, either in midband or 700 MHz. Speeds will generally be in the hundreds of megabits and occasionally a gigabit.

5G covers the heart of the city, the area illustrated at left. That’s about 10 million people. There’s also good coverage of the rest of the city and almost all of urban China.

A government report claims the cells are connected by a 1 ms ring. 1 ms almost certainly is not the average speed between 2 locations, which will often require passing through several routers. My source wasn’t explicit about what was measured.

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Capacity margin
Capacity is growing faster than demand at Verizon

“The world will eventually catch on to millimeter wave,” Ted Rappaport notes. But it won’t be soon most places, I believe, because other wireless capacity is growing faster than demand. Massive MIMO, carrier aggregation, and the newly released mid-band spectrum will meet most needs for years. mmWave will find niches but large rollouts will be few until late in the decade.

The US is considering reversing its longstanding opposition to the ITU & the UN having anything to do with the Internet. Some senior officials think that’s the only way to make progress on security. Much opposition; the US goes to the wall fighting any international role in the net. Highest priority is to ensure that the NSA can continue doing what the NSA does so well. Decision not yet made. More tk

5G is now in the majority of new phones across the developed world and China. It still does nothing important and mostly runs at 4G speeds, but the price is now so low 5G is sweeping the market. But my 600M+ August estimate for 2021 sales should probably be revised down. Apple is cutting 2021 phone production because Broadcom & TI can’t deliver enough chips.

$30,000/subscriber as Starry goes public


Starry is a Boston ISP that is claiming a going public value of $1.5 billion on 48,000 subscribers. That’s about 1% of the homes passed. They’ve spent over $200 million.

Its implicit business proposition is that about 1 in 5 cable homes will switch to wireless in the next five years and that a substantial share will choose Starry over T-Mobile, Verizon, and others.

I originally wrote “That’s about as likely as MySpace reclaiming the #1 position in web music.”

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Could this be the end of cable? (God)father Malone: It’s fiber time

John Malone built the largest cableco in America, TCI. After selling that, he built Liberty Global, the largest in the world. He controls Charter, which serves 30 million cable subscribers. Now


Full release belowm but aksi Mike Fries comments

Because it already has conduit in place for cable, Virgin is confident it will be able to upgrade 13 million homes for less than $140/home. Their chart above claims the cost of fiber is little more than the cost to upgrade to DOCSIS 4;

That’s an amazing figure compared to the $400 -1000 others are spending per home, such as Deutsche Telekom.

The $140 figure does not in the drop to the home or the required new modem, which would triple the cost for a home taking fiber. The numbers still look good.

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