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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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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Dish – $5-10B US build & AT&T resale model?

AT&T has so much overcapacity it gave Dish a great deal on the cost of bandwidth. That allows Charlie to build a minimal network, just meeting his FCC buildout requirement of 70% in all districts.

He can build a lousy network, falling back on AT&T to cover his rear. Very preliminary signs are that’s just what he is doing.

The result: he can easily meet his buildout requirement in his $10B capex estimate. Wall Street speculations he’d have problems raising the money are now superseded. His operating costs will be higher, but they will be related to paying customers.

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