Prof Eli Noam’s 1, 2, Many Internets

“Would having multiple Internet styles be a good thing?” Columbia Professor Eli Noam asked a while back. The Internet, after all, is just a “network of networks.” Noam wrote Interconnecting the Network of Networks back in 2001, and has long been the leading public intellectual in communications. (I don’t have notes on how he Pleaase consider all of the following as by me, strongly influenced by Eli.)

Since then, network science has evolved the concept of “multi-layer” network concepts. Each network is autonomous, determining its own structure. What is crucial is that they are linked.

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5G Small Cell $3,000? Yes

“I can even bring it lower than that,’ said <one who knows> but who couldn’t go on the record by company policy. At the Brooklyn 6G conference, everyone was excited by the performance of “systems on a chip.”

You can’t buy one at Amazon today. If you order less than 100,000, the price will be higher.

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Element: Customers love fiber

Customers around the world are still choosing fiber despite cable upgrades. Improved cable is essentially equal to fiber for 99% of practical uses. All of Comcast will get cable uploads of 100 or 1,000 megabits. (DOCSIS 3.1, not 4.0)

Most other cablecos have similar plans to quickly upgrade. It’s cheap: less than $200/home. Comcast doesn’t even have to increase capex.

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India, France, US Partial Winners in US DOD Open Ran Tests

Lack of complete interoperability is the biggest obstacle to Open RAN adaptation by the major carriers. Even enthusiastic analyst Stefan Pongratz expects O-RAN to need 3 or 4 more years to get to 5% market share. The major carriers are going very slowly.

The US Department of Defense has a 5G Challenge for ” a fully integrated multivendor end-to-end 5G network.” Radisys (owned by India’s Jio), Cap Gemini (France), and Mavenir (US, India*), each won a share of the $3 million in prizes. Signal System Management (from the US defense world) and Fujitsu (Japan) also got modest grants.

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Bringing Evidence to US Spectrum Policy

Verizon capacity margin

Almost everyone in DC has missed the dramatic change in spectrum needs. With the current spectrum, capacity is going up at perhaps 40%/year, per Verizon and AT&T. Demand is going up 15-25%year. (43 OECD countries 15% in 2021.)

Ergo – Carriers don’t need spectrum for years. More spectrum will l do almost nothing for US broadband deployment anytime soon. T-Mobile is already going to 99% 5G, 90% 100 Mbps. Verizon and AT&T have to match. How much more could they build?

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Can America add 10M lines of fiber in 2023? Moffett says no.

Top analyst Craig Moffett adds up announcements for US fiber homes passed and finds plans for 10 million in 2023. AT&T alone plans 4 million.

He finds that unrealistic due to the well-publicized staffing and supply problems. But soon after, I discovered that the UK passed 4 million homes the last year. Britain has 68 million people, the US, 330 million. If the US built at the UK level, we could do 17 million per year.

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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.
  • 5G will not change life in India. The pundits and politicians have been scammed.
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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

  • RISC-V chip designs are accelerating. The processor is open source and royalty-free.
  • Michael Waring, possibly the most effective marketer in telecom, now CEO of Calix. The stock has tripled since Michael pivoted the company to systems that help its customers sell.
  • 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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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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