America: A Tale of at Least Two 5Gs

Dan Jones
5/7/2018

Perhaps more than with any mobile standard developed so far, the speed, capacity, and coverage of the 5G standard will be entirely dependent on the spectrum used, which has serious ramifications for its deployment for the US and beyond.

What is already apparent is that there will be a bifurcation of early strategies among US carriers over 5G services, which are due to start arriving late this year: You can have Gigabit speeds over short distances, if conditions are right, or you can have better-than-4G speeds with good coverage and signal propogation, but no Gigabit for you!

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) are promising Gigabit -- or close to Gigabit downloads -- at 2,000 feet (VZ), or 900 feet (AT&T), after their fixed wireless tests. Verizon's claims on the range have recently been backed by supplier, Samsung Corp. , after its final approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week. (See Samsung Gets FCC Go-Ahead to Bring Verizon 5G to Sactown.)

Meanwhile, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) said that if their merger passes the regulatory sniff test, they will deliver a 450-Mbit/s mobile 5G network -- mainly over 600MHz and 2.5GHz -- starting in the second half of 2019. That's if the merger closes. Remember: T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told me back in February that he "would love to see" a tripling of average T-Mobile 4G LTE speeds (around 30 Mbit/s) with T-Mobile's initial 5G service on 600MHz, due to start in the first half of 2019. (See T-Mobile to Roll Out 5G in 30 US Cities in 2018.)


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You might think that the proposed Sprint/T-Mobile has thrown all of this into sharp relief. That, however, is not the case, this bifurcation was always going to happen. At the moment, only Verizon has the millimeter wave spectrum to consider anything approaching a nationwide rollout of the high-band 5G. Meanwhile, T-Mobile's Ray claims it will cost "$1.5 trillion" for any carrier to consider a nationwide rollout of millimeter wave 5G in the US. (See T-Mobile to Buy Sprint for $26.5B to Create US 5G Powerhouse.)

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure's statement that the proposed merger will bring "the latest technology" to "rural" areas seems far-fetched. The "new" T-Mobile will still be a public company, and thus, shareholders are likely to prefer better speeds and service in Chicago than Elkhart, Indiana. (See Can the 'New' T-Mobile Make America's Networks Great Again?)

Of course, all of this relies on early test results and carrier statements. We haven't seen mobile -- or loaded network -- tests from AT&T or Verizon yet. While Sprint or T-Mobile won't even get to do combined network 5G tests until -- or if -- the merger is approved.

As of now, you can see how 5G deployment plans are split in the US.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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TV Monitor
TV Monitor
6/12/2018 | 2:54:51 PM
Samsung disclosed some hard numbers on Samsung 5G
http://telecoms.com/490265/samsung-gets-down-to-some-myth-busting-at-5g-world/

First and foremost, coverage. Many would have you believe the distance mmWave signal can propagate is less than 50 metres, effectively writing off many of the proposed use cases. Roh's trials in London and Korea demonstrate effective performance up to 800 metres, and even 1.2km when there is a direct line of sight. MYTH BUSTED.

We have found there are still multiple paths to deflect around obstructions to get reasonable quality signal at the receiver," said Roh. Even with obstructions, Samsung have performed tests with the signal being transmitted 2 metres above ground level, with reasonable performance 800 metres away. MYTH BUSTED

This kindly leads onto the third point, as the naysayers believe the reduced signal strength and coverage of mmWave would lead to operators having to worry about an increased number of sites. There might be some cases where this is true, however, another set of Samsung trials in Seoul demonstrated 19 base stations transmitting mmWave delivered 99% of the outdoor coverage of LTE, and 94% of the indoor coverage. There might be a slight drop in performance, but Roh noted speeds on devices increased from an average of 19 Mbps to over 1 Gbps when using mmWave. This criticism of mmWave might be slightly true, but the trade-off is certainly positive. MYTH COMPENSATED
brooks7
brooks7
5/21/2018 | 9:57:58 AM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
 

No, those statistics have held true for about 50 years.  And again, there is nothing special about rural Wisconson and I would have to see evidence that there was more WiFi there than anywhere else.

seven

 
Phil_Britt
Phil_Britt
5/21/2018 | 6:06:51 AM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
That's the way it is now. I was discussing the way it was about 15-20 years ago. 
brooks7
brooks7
5/21/2018 | 2:13:02 AM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
 

The long-term statistics for the phone network is that 80% of all calls are terminated locally at any point in the network.  THere is no difference between rural Wisconson or rural California or rural Alabama.  I believe you have a completely false premise.

seven
Phil_Britt
Phil_Britt
5/20/2018 | 12:06:47 PM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
But in rurual Wisconsin, many calls were long-distance, with additional fees at the time I was referring to. 
brooks7
brooks7
5/20/2018 | 12:05:11 PM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
@phil_britt,

With the exception of taxes and other charges, every wireline landline in the US is exactly the same price set by the FCC.  That is why we have those charges, to subsidize where they are more expensive.

seven

 
Phil_Britt
Phil_Britt
5/19/2018 | 7:05:05 PM
Re: Betting On Range Or Speed
I generally agree urban areas will roll first. But need in some other areas could drive development. For example, Wisconsin progressed with WiFi far faster than other states due to the high cost of landline calls.er
kq4ym
kq4ym
5/16/2018 | 9:19:28 AM
Betting On Range Or Speed
The several football field range of 5G is going to make for some interesting trade offs as the industry makes decision on whether to go with a longer range and slower speeds or high speeds and shorter range. You can be certain however that most likely the rural populations or those outside the urban high density towns aren't going to see 5G for some time as the profits surely would not be there considering the infrastructure costs at present.