At $20,000/per, great where you have backhaul and power. Capex budgets are artificially constrained at most telcos. Wall Street is demanding higher dividends and lower capex, even where irrational. Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone and Telefonica have all reassured the street they will keep capex down.
Small cells have been the next big thing for years, but I haven't seen many of them. Christos Karmis of Mobilitie tells me that's changing dramatically in 2016 and with a salesman's enthusiasm predicts 1,000,000 by 2020. Sprint is planning 70,000 small cells, while Verizon and T-Mobile have talked big plans.
Some will be indoors, more likely to be called Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS,) especially in large buildings impractical to fully cover from outside. Some of those outdoors will also be called DAS, some counted as cell sites. From here on, cell site figures will be impossible to compare. Capex budgets will become even fuzzier than they are today. Many of the small cells, indoor and out, are being installed by third parties like Mobilitie.
$5B - $50B auction scaring some out of business. Not long ago, India had 12 wireless companies and the toughest voice competition in the world. Sistema came in from Russia and has given up. Telenor from Norway has indicated it will skip the auction and probably leave the country. Mukesh Ambani's brother, Anil Ambani, is expected to merge his Reliance Comm with Aircel, very strong in South India's Tamil Nadu. UBS expects Tata DOCOMO to also give up soon. Ambani of Jio sees only four or five likely to survive.
Indian analysts and press believe the companies have neither the financing nor capacity to buy most of the amazingly large amount available in the auction. See "$80B" Indian auction could be world changing - or only $12B. Merrill Lynch forecasts as little as $5B; Suresh Mahadevan of UBS speculates, "Airtel and Idea may not participate in the 700MHz spectrum auctions because the pricing is extremely high." An alternate view is that Jio and the current giants will jump in hard for enough spectrum to operate efficiently. LTE works best with at least 20x20 MHz, far more than most of them use today. The lower costs of operation would be a major competitive advantage. (My take, but I'm 10,000 miles away.)
Reliance Jio intends to win 100M customers as soon as possible and an even larger market share over time. The primary offers are unlimited nighttime calls and four gigabytes of LTE for less than $8/month. For $2.25, you get unlimited night time calls and 300 megabits of data. At 20 gigabytes, the cost falls to $0.74/gig.
"I may piss off Qualcomm." These notes are from one of the world's top wireless researchers. I asked for help understanding the battle over telcos taking a large chunk of Wi-Fi spectrum. He's a good guy. If I pressed, he would probably go public.
Instead, I decided to write the article without his name after three other researchers also refused to go on-the-record. This is the power of companies worth $300B when they go all out. Several very good engineers have spoken out, including a Stanford prof. I could have gone to them but instead sought out experts I haven't seen publicly discussing the subject. If any reader with wireless expertise can help me out, on or off the record, I'd welcome it. In particular, if you think -72 dBm testing will eliminate most interference, please let me know.
His first comment was, "I would lean towards a -87 to -90 dBm threshold as being the appropriate level to avoid wifi interference to a significant number of wifi users."
Unsolved problems with blockage, beam aggregation, and even how you hold the phone. Robert Heath is the man "who wrote the book on millimeter wave." He has a major testbed and lab at the University of Texas. He's an enthusiastic supporter, but also a realist. Millimeter waves sometimes are blocked by a window or wall. They definitely won't get to the other side of a building or bounce around most obstacles.
Most of these problems can be solved. Beamforming and beamtracking have great promise. Millimeter antennas can be very small, allowing large arrays that don't take up much space or power. Receivers will often be able to connect to multiple cells; research on how to combine them efficiently is a hot topic. When mobiles are part of the network, everything will become much harder. Take a look at the slides below.
Turn around and your body may affect the signal.
One shared network, separate companies in other ways. Building four networks when one will do the job is an unnatural act, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler reminded CTIA. He pointed to the effective joint build of Cingular & T-Mobile more than a decade ago. For 5G high-band, he sees little choice. Highband has short reach so needs many cells - easily a million to cover most of the U.S., compared to the 50,000-70,000 cells AT&T and Verizon now have. The 4-7 networks necessary for competition to work well are not going to happen. Vectored DSL also is unlikely to be shared; that means the end of network "unbundling" in Germany, Italy, England, much of Poland and some of the U.S.
Competition can survive a monopoly in the home connection if it is strengthened in other parts of the network. Wheeler is on target with, "We ought to explore creative options on how best to build that infrastructure. ... We have to learn from experience and get in front of this challenge."
There are choices other than strong regulation of a monopoly or duopoly.
Darn impressive even if not always doubling speed. I wouldn't expect to get 400 megabits at Broadway and 42nd Street at 6 p.m. Some people, in just the right spot, will see speeds close to that. Speeds of 50-150 megabits will be common many places, although those at the edge of cell or through a thick wall the speeds will go down to under 10 megabits.
CTO Neville Ray has done an extraordinary job keeping up with the technology despite a capital budget of under $5B, not much for a U.S. sized network. He's also extended coverage to 311M pops, about 98%, almost matching Verizon. (Independent testing of coverage is often lower than the telco claims, but I have no reason to believe T-Mobile lies more than Verizon or AT&T.)
The moves to 256 QAM (downstream) and 64 QAM (upstream) won't affect many people because so few phones support them. QAM measures how many bits you send per hertz. Higher QAM encode more data. The analog components and digital signal processing in new phones are improved, allowing more signal to get through. 256 QAM will be common in new phones in a few years.
Ray should not have signed his name to the claim, "delivers a massive 2x speed boost to customers."
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