Jennie kiosk NY“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.

3 part series on LinkNYC

LinkNYC June 2016 360 The sooner you get the bits to a landline, the cheaper the network will be, Bill Smith of AT&T taught me several years ago. 70-90% of cellphone data already goes straight to Wi-Fi. A build like this can probably cover the majority of the remainder demanded in dense areas. That's where carriers have the most need for capacity. 

Consider Australia, where they are building a National Broadband network with fiber, cable, and DSL. It's had a rough few years but may be coming together. If they put kiosks like this wherever they could, they effectively double the spectrum. Consumers would save a great deal of money. The companies can save the investments in more towers. It wouldn't be that expensive because they are already tearing up the streets to put in fiber. Politically impossible, I think, but from a technical point of view the right thing to do.

I believe "bottoms-up," Wi-Fi First networking can deliver bits at a fraction of the cost of wireless towers in most cities. Wi-FI is now built into every phone; the LinkNYC stations can do most of what people need on the go. LTE towers will still be necessary but most of the traffic will go Wi-Fi. French networks are being built this way, one reason wireless in France costs about a third of what it does here. Bottoms-up, especially from home gateways, probably halves the cost of a wireless network and eliminates spectrum shortages. 

New York's network is being paid for by advertising and related services. It's completely privately funded and even returning a profit to the city. The city, under Maya Wiley, put out a request for proposals and chose this one. There's some silliness about a "public-private partnership" because that's a popular buzzword. It's a private venture with ordinary city regulation. PPP's sound good but many are scams and failures.

 A government run program can be very effective, as Chattanooga and Hamburg prove. Other muni builds have been disasters, including Burlington and Provo. Often, the ones that work well have existing municipal utilities; the disasters were often led by a team with little network building experience. This should be a practical decision, not an ideological one. 

In some mostly rural areas, no company is willing to come in without a big subsidy. Low density areas rarely have substantial competition; the few with the right facilities often extort the subsidy program. The U.S. Broadband Stimulus probably wasted more than half the $7B. The recipients of the Connect America funding have been bragging to Wall Street how much of the money goes to profit, not building broadband. The English newspapers have reported that BDUK billions were squandered. India's universal service fund has produced almost nothing. Hillary Clinton's team has a naive idea of throwing money at the problem.   

The best approach I've seen is to require the buildout from a company spending their own money and keeping costs down. I call that "Kurth Solution," named for the German regulator who made this work for broadband to the "white spaces" on the map. The companies bidding for 4G spectrum were required to build in the white spaces before they could build the profitable cities. Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom delivered extremely quickly while keeping spending down. Of course they lowered their auction bid, but WIK Consulting, the top German firm, calculated the reduction was very modest. It was certainly much less than the companies would have demanded as a subsidy.  

New York actually did something similar, if the rumors are true. The company initially wanted to hold off on the less profitable parts of town. Maya Wiley said no deal until they expanded the buildout.  They didn't agree to the whole city but are going to all five boros.

 There are issues, of course. Privacy problems were noted by the NYCLU and NY Mag. They did affluent, commercial areas first but are now expanding. Many areas are not on the map below, disproportionately the poorer areas. Smart regulation will be very important solving these.  

""Connectivity for everyone" has been Bob Frankston's call for 15 years.

LinkNYC map

Newsletter

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 Gig LTE & Massive MIMO ushering in the Age of Wireless Abundance

Wireless Abundance is here: What the new tech means http://bit.ly/Wirelessabundance
Sprint & T-Mobile Charge to be 1st in U.S. to Gig LTE bit.ly/STMOgig  AT&T bit.ly/ATTGIG2016
Kitahara of Softbank “I am crazy about Massive MIMO” http://bit.ly/MMIMOCrazy
20 Gig mmWave, Massive MIMO & Gig LTE at the Huawei MBBF http://bit.ly/Huawei20
LTE gets to the gigabit explained for non-engineers http://bit.ly/GigLteexplained
Massive MIMO explained. http://bit.ly/WHMassiveMIMO
2017's Big Gigabit story: Qualcomm 835 is ready http://bit.ly/BigGigLTE
Doubling speed with 4x4 MIMO & 256 QAM at T-Mobile http://bit.ly/2k1gEOQ
Netgear Nighthawk M1, Telstra do "gigabit class" LTE http://bit.ly/2k1s5Gq
Spectrum price down by half http://bit.ly/Spectrumhalfoff
Dish and the telcos see big asset cut http://bit.ly/auctionlosers
Shorts on 3GPP,  NYU research, Ralph de la Vega, 5G new radio

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5GW News

dave right5G? 4G? Whatever the name, wireless is going to a gigabit, soon.  I've reported broadband since 1999 and now is the time for gigabit wireless. Catch a mistake or have news? Email me please. Dave Burstein

 

Stories worth writing

Starry may match Verizon 5G at half the cost
OFCOM in UK: Share all spectrum, even licensed
OFCOM's Boccardi: 26 GHz worldwide: U.S. goes 28 
Verizon 5G fixed tests will be only 100's of homes
Massive MIMO FD at China Uni, Tele, Huawei, ZTE

 

 

 

Datapoints

Verizon and AT&T burying price increases in fees. 

Huawei's Richard Yu intends to pass both Apple & Samsung in smartphones in five years. 

The 3,000,000,000 transistor Qualcomm 835 is a revolution. Gig LTE, incredible cameras, better VR & AR, & ... State of the art CPU, DSL, GPU, ISP tightly integrated

1,000 T-Mobile small cells 2016, 6,000 more coming. Tech Life

New $84 Reliance Lyf Wind 7S has a 5" screen, a quad-core Snapdragon, an 8 megapixel camera, and some extras. Not state of the art, perhaps, but completely usable at a modest price. 

Orange/FT 4G covers 97% of Poland, 96% of Moldova, but only 84% in France, Q3 2016. They have 113.5 mobile customers in Africa compared to 25.5M in Europe.

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