Will Operators Deploy Phase 1 5G?

5G MobileStandardization of 5G is split into two phases. The first phase, which is scheduled for 2H2018, will focus on a subset of use cases and features. The second phase which is scheduled for December 2019, will meet ITU2020 requirements for 5G technology. Phase 1 will also focus on sub 6 GHz bands although carriers in Asia are pushing to include millimeter wave bands. The question is whether phase 1 will matter at all? Would operators bother with an intermediate step towards 5G, or opt to deploy the mature version when it becomes available? Read more of this post

5 Things You Need To Know About 5G.

5G TechnologyThe 5G picture is getting clearer by the day. While there is still a lot of fuzziness that will take take time to crystallize the broad outline for 5G is now more clear. Below, is a summary of some of our findings on 5G. Needless to say, 5G developments will have significant ramifications especially as the capital expenses to build 5G networks will be greater than ever before. This should not be a surprise as despite the call to reduce the unit cost of data transport (i.e. $/bit), the overall network expenditures continue to rise. So, here is the broad outline for 5G: Read more of this post

How Much is 700 MHz Spectrum Worth?

Spectrum pricing and costThe 700 MHz auction in France closed last week raising a total of €2.8 billion ($3.17 billion). Orange and Free Mobile secured 2 block of 5 MHz duplex spectrum, while Bouygues and SFR secured one 5 MHz block each. The operators will have now to bid for the position of the allocation in the band: they got four choices, so the price will go up. In this second bid process, the second and third choice placements cost 2/3rd and 1/3rd the price of the winning bid, respectively. The operator left with the last choice pays nothing.  Read more of this post

The Challenges of 5G Spectrum

5G MobileThere has never been as much uncertainty about spectrum for a new generation of mobile service technology as there exists today for 5G. GSM was set in the 800 / 900 MHz band and 3G was set in the 2.1 GHz band. Vendors aligned their products with the target bands. There was clear focus and purpose. Then came LTE where uncertainty on spectrum began to creep. Looking back at 2006-2009 timeframe when LTE was under developments and in trials, a number of bands were identified and available instead of specific spectrum. Initially the thought was for higher bands such as 2.5 GHz, but LTE was deployed in 700 / 800 MHz first reiterating that coverage is always the lead driver for deployments of new technologies for both regulatory and practical business and operational considerations: after all, there’s no capacity challenge on new networks. Today, fragmentation of spectrum is the hallmark of LTE. While much of the same will be for 5G when it happens, it promises to be even a deeper problem. Read more of this post

Time for a Comprehensive Strategy for License-Exempt Spectrum

Spectrum ConnectivityCalls for regulators to release more unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi are getting louder: the 2.4 GHz band is heavily used and the 5 GHz band suffers from many restrictions that limit its applicability. LTE’s entry into unlicensed spectrum is further amplifying these calls and adding an acute sense of urgency.

But what is required is more than additional unlicensed spectrum. There needs to be a comprehensive strategy not only for additional unlicensed spectrum, but also for ensuring that regulations are harmonized to the extent possible between regions and are aligned with socio-economic needs. This is because we reached a point where additional spectrum means greater divergence between regions and increased market fragmentation, a similar scenario to the current state of the 5 GHz band. Read more of this post

AWS-3 Auction Closes on $44 Billion: Did They Cross The Bounds of The Rational?

AWS-3 AuctionIt seems US wireless operators have crossed the bounds to the irrational in bidding on the AWS-3 spectrum. As I write this article, round 91 closed at over $43.74 billion for the 65 MHz of spectrum. That’s a gross average of $2.3/MHz PoP. To put this into perspective, the 90 MHz of AWS-1 spectrum in 2006 netted $13.7 billion at gross average of $0.54/MHz-PoP. In other words, the cost of AWS-3 is more than 4 times that of AWS-1. In fact, the cost of AWS-3 is more than 2x the cost of the 700 MHz spectrum which is considered superior because of better propagation characteristics that leads to lower infrastructure capex. Overbidding on spectrum in higher bands is doubly damaging. Read more of this post

Defining the Innovation Band and Shared Spectrum Access

3.5 GHz Shared Spectrum RulesSpectrum sharing rules for the 3.5 GHz band in the US are beginning to take shape. While there are still some important aspects to define, the broad lines have been drawn for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). The process of fine-tuning the rules will continue following the April Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) (comments are due July 14th and reply comments by August 1st). The proposed rules will have a three-tiered spectrum sharing scheme in 3550 – 3650 MHz between Incumbent Access, Priority Access License (PAL) and General Authorized Access (GAA) users. Furthermore, there door is open to roll into this band the 3650 – 3700 MHz band which today operates on a non-exclusive licensed basis. Read more of this post