One of the best ways to understand telecom

I’ve been covering the industry since 1999, always trying to get closer to the truth. I’ve learned from hundreds of the best. If you’re trying to understand telecom, I’m always happy to exchange ideas. If you’re in the industry and need answers, ask me. Our consulting rates are fair and if I can’t help you I’ll say so. Dave Burstein daveb@dslprime.com

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Verizon 5G Edge Net. Fuhgeddaboudit! (At least for now)

Verizon has abandoned plans to build an Edge Network only 18 months after announcing an audacious program. What Verizon has deployed runs at 4G speeds and Vestberg should not be calling it an “Edge Network.” It just marketing hype for a deal between Verizon and Amazon’s distributed cloud, with no interesting technical advantages. “”Improved edge…Continue reading

Mythbusting: 5G does not require more sites than 4G

95% of real 5G is mid-band, 3.3-4.2 GHz. The range is comparable to more traditional 1800 MHz spectrum if the site uses many (small) antennas, Massive MIMO and efficient beamforming. Therefore, 5G as actually deployed does not require more antennas than 4G. Orange/FT CTO Michael Trabbia is the latest to confirm. He tells Iain Morris…Continue reading

250M 5G Subscribers End 2020 150M Q3

230-250 million 5G yearend as phone prices fall to US$199-260. 5G subscriber numbers are exploding. 100-120 million 5G phones will sell in Q4, many of them Apples. China will add at least 50 million. 70% of the phones selling in China are 5G and likely over 90% by mid-2021. I’m reworking my 2021 & 2022…

5G Need to Know: Sales exploding, performance poor, 0 new apps

147 million subs September 2020, 117 million in China. Yearend likely 230-250 million, including 30-50 million iPhone 12. Decent 5G phones cost US$200-250 in China, with 6.5″ screens and multiple cameras. As China prices move West, 2021 will blow out. Forget gigabit speeds and 1 ms latency. Mid-band speeds mostly 100-400 Mbps. Low-band typically 50-100…

562,656 Koreans go back to 4G

5G has so few practical uses that half a million Koreans have gone back to 4G. The saving is modest; otherwise, millions would have gone back. 4G speeds averaged over 50 Mbps in 2019. 4G is probably much faster today. 5G averages 300 Mbps across about a third of the country. So what? What can…

844 low latency Starlink satellites: Musk changes rural possibilites

Starlink latency averages 30 ms, similar to 5G’s reality. Speeds measure up to 100 Mbps, although some only get half that. Upstream is usually 10-40 Mbps. Caps haven’t been specified but will almost certainly be higher than current satellite offerings. By most standards, the performance is decent. A Redditer posts Starlink is 600x better than…Continue reading

Need to know: Real 5G speeds and spectrum (3 minute read)

Takeaway: 95+% of 5G is lowband (< 1800 MHz or mid-band (2500-4200 MHz.) Asia, TMobile US, and much of Europe is mid-band.80-200 MHz of spectrum usually delivers 100-400 Mbps. Low-band (AT&T, much of DT & other European, runs at 4G speeds and sometimes lower. See AT&T data below.Millimeter wave often does 500 Mbps and a…Continue reading

Need to Know: 5G Spectrum – Think mid-band

Takeway: Decent 5G until around 2025 will be mostly mid-band, 2500-4200 MHz. Frequencies lower than 2100 MHz essentially deliver 4G capacity. Millimeter wave, 20 GHz and above, can deliver gigabits but will be rare until the middle of the decade or later. It’s expensive, and the carriers don’t see much market. Heretical but true: 5G…Continue reading

Open RAN Experts: Not quite ready for prime time

Open RAN works, but the strongest supporters are clear it has a way to go. CTO Tareq Amin of Rakuten, with the most advanced deployment in the world, had to spend “hundreds of millions” on custom chips to get the performance he needs. My unofficial numbers are custom chip cost wiped out all the initial…Continue reading

$Hundreds of millions in extra chip costs prove Open-RAN not quite ready

Tareq Amin’s Rakuten is the most advanced Open-RAN and virtual carrier on earth. But he wasn’t able to get there using standard parts and equipment. Rakuten pays hundreds of millions of dollars in non-recurring engineering fees to chipmakers like Qualcomm to obtain the components it needs. …We cannot find the right material at the right cost,…Continue reading

Primary: Cost per bit of wireless is falling at a ferocious rate

Even experts are skeptical that Verizon’s cost per bit is falling at 40-50% per year, but I’ve confirmed it to my satisfaction. Three well-established datapoints: Traffic was growing at 60-80% per year and only now is growth falling below 40% Capex has been flat to down Speeds have been going up consistently and congestion is…Continue reading