“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 explained.it. 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.
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
This article is for the EU leader, central to tens of billions of subsidies, who said “Of course, 5G requires fiber.” Fiber is great, but microwave has the same latency or maybe less. It has plenty of capacity.
Verizon, spending billions on fiber, is also increasing the share of microwave backhaul from 10% to 20%. Ericsson agrees
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.
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.
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.
5G is not going to change the world, no matter what you hear from Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, or Angela Merkel. None of them have any idea what they are talking about. The hype level is far beyond anything else I’ve seen in 22 years of reporting.
~63 million people had 5G phones at the end of June 2020. By August, 100 million. Demand is exploding in Asia, mostly China, where decent 5G phones sell for US$199-260. Yearend 5G will be between 200 million and 240 million.
Update September 1. Realme has just released a phone so cheap I probably should raise my estimates. See Realme 5G down to $145 Bloomberg has the rumor that all the new iPhones in 2020 will be 5G. end update
Advanced wireless delivers useful improvements for us in the industry. Hans Vestberg at Verizon estimates his costs are down 90%. But performance generally is disappointing. Latency is typically 25-40 millisecond, not close to the promised 1 ms. With few exceptions, speeds are from 50 Mbps (some low-band) to 400 Mbps. Most of Europe is 100-200 Mbps; Korea claims much higher speeds.
There are no exciting new apps that don’t work fine in 4G. After 18 months, none. I hope some thrilling new apps will appear over time. Some “use cases” are false narratives. Better and cheaper wireless is good for all of us, but not life-changing.
This will soon be part of my book, 5G. I have drafts of sections on applications (few,) strategies (take advantage of 5G capacity and low costs,) companies (watch Jio, Rakuten, and the new software vendors, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, Radisys/Jio, & Altiostar,) and informed regulation, Ask me for 0.7 versions if these are important topics for you.
5G phone prices in China are down to US$199 (Coolpad.) Half a dozen phones are available from $214-$260. That includes the Xiaomi K30, two from Huawei/Honor, Oppo, and Realme. The Coolpad, distributed by China Telecom, uses the new Tiger T7510 chip, designed in China by Ziguang Zhanrui. Qualcomm has announced the 690 chip, also designed for 5G phones under $200. I believe the low price of phones will drive demand over 200 million units in 2020, the highest estimate in the West. See 5G Phones $199-260,
Verizon is making a big push for 4G fixed wireless. Turkcell added 91,000 4G fixed customers in Q2. Inseego has a slew of orders for FWA routers. The 5G version has an improved antenna that Verizon is very hopeful about.
17.5 million 5G phones shipped in China in June, about as many as the six month total in the entire rest of the world. However, July was down to 14 million. The 6 month total is 63.6 million. 10-14 million were sold in 2019, so the total 5G phones in China are ~75 million. That’s at least three times the total in the rest of the world. However, it is much less than the carrier figure of > 100 million “contracts,” which includes many still using 4G phones.
60% of phones sold in China in June were 5G. As prices come down elsewhere, I expect similar trends elsewhere. Almost all western telcos have such low counts they refuse to release figures.
MTN in South Africa has upgraded hundreds of base stations to 5G mid-band.
Performance is generally dismal compared to promises
Verizon claimed latency is 30 ms, although it sometimes measures lower. That’s 30% lower than 4G averages, although 4G latency is also falling. T-Mobile’s tested average 5G speed is 49 Mbps and AT&T’s 61 Mbps. The Open Signal chart at left for June summarizes over 10,000 tests. Compare it to the 4G results from Canada, 69 Mbps at Bell and 75 Mbps at Telus.
Mid-band spectrum allows 5G (and 4G) to reach 100’s of megabits, as confirmed by the British 5G companies and the Korean data from Open Signal below. Neville Ray says his lightly loaded new network at 2.5 GHz averages speeds over 300 Mbps. Korean government tests claim speeds average over 600 Mbps, much higher than reported by similar networks elsewhere. I need more data.
Do 5G speeds change what we do on the Internet?
Ask yourself, what can you do at 250 Mbps that you can’t do at 75 Mbps? 4K video typically is 15 Mbps; few of us watch more than three 4K videos at once. Huge downloads are faster, but how often do you download huge files? All claims of economic benefits depend on superior applications, which aren’t on the horizon. Nearly all the “studies” that find economic returns describe applications like IoT and connected cars that work well in 4G. The claims are unsupportable
I’ve interviewed over 100 senior people in the industry, including CTOs of world-class carriers and many of the inventors. Almost all are horrified by how the marketing people, the politicians, and some dreamers abuse the facts.