Mukesh Ambani brings down the price to fill Reliance JIO's $25B network. The time has come for all but the very poor to have LTE phones with speeds in the megabits and higher. LTE is 2x-5x more efficient and costs much less per bit than 3G. The parts cost is only $5-15 more than 3G; the operator more than makes up for that with OPEX and spectrum savings. Ambani's $45 LTE phone has a quad-core processor, 4" screen, and performance that matches the iPhones that made people happy a few years ago, For $20 more, the screen is 4.5". 5" inch models are about $100. The $45 model - pictured above - has cameras with only 2 megapixels and other limits For not that much more you can get better specs. JIO is probably subsidizing a bit but other brands are not that much more expensive.
Carlos Slim told me three years ago that $50 smartphones will bring billions to the net. He was right. There are now about 3.5B smartphones, more than half belonging to people who weren't connected a few years ago. GSMA, usually accurate, projects 5.8B smartphones by 2020. India alone will have 400M-600M new netizens, more than the U.S. plus much of Europe.
I predict a very high percentage will be LTE.
400-600 million more Indians will connect to the broadband Internet in the next few years, almost all wirelessly. Currently, most Indians have terribly slow net connections. Ambani's new $25B LTE network is coming on stream and will improve things. The 2300 MHz of spectrum on offer is enough to change that. It's four or five times as much as used by all the U.S. carriers. With robust networks, most users soon will be able to watch 4 hours of HD video daily (or other things that need bandwidth.) Without improvements, many are cautious about the cost of a single YouTube video.
The Indian press and analysts are predicting only $12-20B will be raised at the auction. The telcos don't have the cash or borrowing power to bid anything like $80B, more than the total market cap of the companies. The Indians set a reserve price for the different frequencies. If no one one bids that price, the spectrum is held over for another auction in a few years. Not selling all the spectrum this time probably won't have much effect in the long run. They couldn't build out that fast.
The new Indian broadband users may be more than the U.S. and Western Europe combined. Currently, Indian telcos have one of the world's worst ratios of spectrum to users, drastically limiting what users can do.
“They're on!” The irrepressible Jennie Bourne wrote me when she connected to one of the first of 7,500 free Gigabit Wi-Fi kiosks here in New York. They are thin, fast, and attractive. Capacity is now 10x what it was a few years ago. The once marginal offering is now robust.
Most of us have Wi-Fi at home and work; add a network like this and you'd rarely need to use expensive LTE bandwidth unless you are out driving. That's great for consumers, frightening for telcos and their stockholders. LinkNYC is crucial to NY's plan to connect everyone. To protect Wi-Fi, City Counsel Maya Wiley has become a player in 3GPP & IEEE standards. See 8,550,405 New Yorkers: Protect WiFi from LTE-U/LAA. LinkNYC is working far below -72 dBm and 3GPP threatens that. Today's WiFi can work at -72 dBm and even -90 dBm
How fast is it? Miles Green writes, "We returned from a week long vacation and found that it took about three hours for our trip photos to upload to iCloud via our home cable internet service. That same transfer made on a LinkNYC connection was able to complete in about two minutes." The network isn't loaded yet and Green is a company engineer, but I think you get the point.
I believe it is stupid not to build a Wi-Fi network like this in almost every city, whether public or private.
The word on the street is the telcos won't bid the $86B the broadcasters want and the auction may go on until next year. That would result in a much lower figure for far less than the 120 MHz on offer. Harold Feld wonders if the broadcasters have priced themselves out.
Mike Calabrese, one of the best in D.C., tweets "likely to end up selling 70 MHz for $30-40B by mid/late 2017." John Hodulik and Craig Moffett, two of the best on Wall Street, think the three key bidders - Verizon, AT&T & T-Mobile - don't want to spend more than $30B. Higher totals are unlikely unless others - Dish, Comcast, ? - decide to come in and none are certain.
Caution, please. The last auction came in three times as high as I - and most of the experts above - expected.
"There is a high degree of uncertainty," Ovum's Mike Roberts correctly notes in his estimate, but his 24M projection is consistent with other datapoints. (My wild guess would be lower.) MU-MIMO and Massive MIMO - in sub 6 GHz frequencies - will almost certainly be more important into the next decade.
High frequency millimeter wave will be an important part of 5G many places one day and working on rules is sensible. The hype, from the U.S. FCC and the vendors, is so inaccurate it's almost funny.
The most aggressive promoters of millimeter wave - Verizon, NTT, Korea Telecom - have been clear: trials only until 2020-2024. VZ CFO Fran Shammo made a point of telling Wall Street that the actual deployment will be so small it won't affect capital spending for years. NTT CTO Seizo Onoe in 2015 said he expected his 5G deployments mostly will be below 6 GHz until 2022-2023 and confirmed that this year. Giant China Mobile just joined Qualcomm in a demonstration of 5G in sub-6GHz spectrum at Mobile World Congress. (Release below.)
"Coverage is at signal strengths below -72 dBm and down to signals as low as -90 dBm," New York City Counsel Maya Wiley tells the FCC and standards groups. We (I'm a New Yorker) are demanding that Verizon's LTE in WiFi spectrum not interfere with New York's plan to connect everyone, starting with 7,500 free gigabit Kiosks. Verizon's LTE proposal - now a subject of controversy in 3GPP - specifies that LTE-U will choose an unused channel if available. This data raises the question of "What is an unused channel?" I infer that lowering the detection threshold will probably be necessary.
Technology is moving fast; rules are changing slowly unless the change has a powerful patron. New York's petition has implications worth exploring.Harold Feld has pointed to changes in wireless rules that improve performance without undue interference. His ideas seem sensible to me. I'm presenting here the NYC claims and will be asking experts for opinions in a follow-up article.
"LinkNYC will provide strong coverage at a minimum of 150 feet from a kiosk. The initial links are providing coverage up to 400 feet in some cases, including down side streets, which means many more people in many more parts of the city will be able to take advantage of the system's seamless handoff facility. That scale of consistent and abundant connectivity has the potential to drive enormous innovation for the city. Based on initial analysis, that additional coverage is at signal strengths below -72 dBm and as low as -90 dBm."
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