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10 gigabits + using higher frequencies

RTed and Robert's new bookJapan, Korea plan 28 GHz 5G for 2018-2020. If 3 gigabits isn't enough, in a few years you'll be able to go to "millimeter wave," 15 GHz, 28 GHz, 60 GHz WiGIG or similar. There are literally gigahertz of spectrum available, enough for 10 gigabit and higher speed service. At the Brooklyn 5G Wireless Summit, I spoke with AT&T President John Stankey and NTT DOCOMO Seizo Onoe.

    Onoe is ready go as soon as the equipment is ready, with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung supporting his trials per the release below.  Stankey is more cautious, still studying, but he wouldn't have come to Brooklyn if AT&T wasn't serious. Lots of problems still to solve, including short reach and difficult reflections, but there are hundreds of engineers at major companies already at work. 

   The "Prince of 28 GHz," Ted Rappaport of NYU Wireless, led that conference and has a new book out, Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications. It's certain to become the primary reference because of the prominence of the authors. His co-author Robert Heath has built an MU-MIMO testbed at the University of Texas that's a crucial proof of concept for MU-MIMO. It's professionally priced ($100-125) but through Thursday 9/25 you can get a 40% discount with the code MMWAVE40 at http://bit.ly/1Dmi5fk

NY Times doesn't get that MIMO increases spectrum capacity 300% and more

Lowell McAdam knows spectrum Five years of WiFi prove multiple antennas dramatically improve throughput. A key reason D.C. policy is awful is that many in D.C. don't realize the extraordinary increase already happening in spectrum capacity. The engineers are instead debating whether the MIMO increase will be 10x or 100x, with the higher estimates getting strong support. http://bit.ly/MSDCREG

    Four years ago, most U.S. cell phones ran at 1-3 megabits. The latest measurements have AT&T at 14 megabits, Verizon at 16 and T-Mobile at 19! Even a reporter can see the networks are more than keeping up and the lobbyist spin is highly implausible. But Wyatt reports "mobile broadband depends on the public airwaves known as spectrum, which is a finite commodity with limited capacity," based on a comment from Meredith Baker, D.C. lawyer/lobbyist.  The actual problem for the telcos is finding enough customers, not finding spectrum.

    That's just the start; Spain, Singapore, Korea & the Emirates are deploying 300 megabit shared LTE, which is twice as fast as the U.S. offerings. Nokia is demonstrating 10x that speed, 3.8 Gigabit LTE. 3.8 Gigabit? Just A Demo, But Definitely Feasible http://bit.ly/38gigabits If you want 10 gigabits, Ted Rappaport just wrote a book explaining how that will be delivered with millimeter waves, perhaps 28 GHz. http://bit.ly/Millimeterbook

    Instead of believing Baker, a lobbyist, Wyatt should read what Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam & AT&T President Ralph de la Vega are telling investors. AT&T & Verizon: We Have Enough Capacity So Spectrum Isn't A Big Issue http://bit.ly/Bellsspectrum Lowell, an experienced engineer, notes "We have a lot of AWS spectrum, We have great capacity in place. ... the network has the capacity." In fact, Lowell has been cutting capex while speeding up the network. "We expect to see capex as a % of revenue to fall."

To Tap a DSL line, use Tracespan

Tracespan interceptWikileaks isn't all secret. Tracespan makes some of the best DSL test gear, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see them on a list of tappers at Wikileaks. Wikileaks' SpyFiles is making news with details of high-powered hacking tools shipped from the West to governments which abuse dissenters such as Egypt, Qatar & UAE. They identified $65M in FinFisher "weaponed malware;" there's plenty of money being made here. Alcatel, Siemens and the other western communications vendors were heavily represented, some leaked.

   I also found in the Wikileaks files the Israeli company Tracespan. The Wikileaks data on Tracespan was interesting but not secret. I found some of the files at http://www.tracespan.com/ipVDSLPhantom.aspx under "lawful intercept." I'm sure Tracespan cooperates with Israeli intelligence, which like the U.S. CIA or French sécurité extérieure is a "by any means necessary" outfit. (Think Iran-contra.) 

   The U.S./Australia Huawei ban may inspired more by the difficulty for U.S. spies than the danger from Chinese ones. 

Doug Sicker moves from Colorado to Carnegie-Mellon

Doug SickerBoulder Colorado remains a top telecom hub. About a dozen engineers/academics play an outsized role in D.C. policy, having earned friendship and respect from the top policymakers. Sicker was the Chief Technologist of both the FCC & NTIA  and is always heard when he goes to D.C. (Doug's picture is from long ago.)

   Carnegie is one of the world's best computer science departments but I was surprised be moved to Pittsburgh. He loves Colorado.  I asked Doug why he moved and his reply is below.  

   The University of Colorado at Boulder is among the very strongest centers for telecom work, with Phil Weiser (close to Obama) and Dale Hatfield (D.C.'s longtime favorite engineer.) David Reed has recently come over from CableLabs to run the Interdisciplinary Telecom Program.

For the record: Dave to FCC on what to do when competition doesn't work

Will Wheeler do anything to reverse the high U.S. prices? That would be the logical followup to his speech asserting  “meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and that Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections.” http://bit.ly/FCCBlog I'm skeptical and commented on the FCC blog:

Wheeler is going in the right direction but both of you are ducking a crucial question: What's the right policy when competition is weak and there's no practical way to "incent competition." When I go to Wall Street, nearly no one seems willing to invest the $billions if would take to broadly take on the incumbents, no matter what "incentives" you find. Competition is great but when it's not working we need to be realistic. 

   Over the last 7 years, U.S. prices for high-speed broadband have risen to typically 30%-70% higher than Germany, France & England. 

   Time to do more than talk and pray. 


$2,000,000,000.000 of CEOs Coming to Goldman Sachs: The right questions

Claure, the football club ownerMcAdam of Verizon, de la Vega of AT&T, Gavin Patterson of BT & dozens more. The most powerful executives in the world are coming to NY for the Goldman Sachs 23rd Annual Communacopia Conference. Brett Feldman is Goldman's new telecom analyst. Brett comes from Deutsche Bank; I've been reading his thoughtful work for several years. He just started Verizon at Buy because he believes their high value customers will stick by them despite others dropping prices.

    Smart executives don't lie to Wall Street, even if they are untruthful to reporters and regulators. Analysts who think you're not truthful can really hurt the stock price. Goldman is always a good show because they skip the boring speeches and go right to the key questions. Most will be webcast and Seeking Alpha should have transcripts quickly. 

Do click through for more:

(Retracted) U.S. Wireless Deep Decline After Mergers - Deloitte

Deloitte wireless indexGoing from 6 carriers to 4 apparently a huge mistake.  The Deloitte Mobile Communications National Achievement Index, a mix of 15 indicators, plummeted from 2006 to 2009 a dramatic 25-30%, after the Sprint/Nextel and Cingular/AT&T Wireless mergers http://bit.ly/Deldrop. Pretty dramatic, as you can see in the chart.  

Update Sept 13: I made a bad mistake assuming that Deloitte, one of the world's largest accounting firms, wasn't fudging the data. But I can't think of any other reason Deloitte refuses to answer my questions about the index itself or to supply the data for countries comparable to the U.S. such as Britain or Germany. This is extremely poor behavior that devalues their work. No one wanting to be taken seriously in a policy discussion would make important claims without providing a way to confirm their data.

   If they actually believe we face "a direct loss of USD 67 billion in GDP and 344,000 jobs in less than a decade. Furthermore, an unavailability of spectrum puts at risk the heavily mobile-dependent Internet of Things, and with it a potential USD 1.2 trillion of new economic growth," I don't see how anyone who knows the industry would consider hiring them as consultants. Craig Wigginton is the Telecom lead at Deloitte; Phil Wilson, Dwight Allen and Kevin Thompson are the listed authors. It's possible that Deloitte chose to deliberately put out something misleading to support the lobbying efforts of some big clients.   

End update. 

    Ad hoc ergo propter hoc, of course, but no other explanation I can imagine would explain such a severe drop.  

    The latest index is still substantially below 2006 despite a modest recovery starting 2009. Verizon's LTE build started in 2009, now followed by AT&T, but that wasn't enough to make up the ground. Note that the index went down in boom times but rose during the Great Recession. 

LTE 300 Megabits? Singapore, Spain On

Realworld likely speeds of 50-150 megabits 90+% of the time. Two 20 MHz bands will deliver speeds like this. You rarely will need that kind of speed but higher capacity wireless means more bandwidth for all. The 2 gigabyte and 5 gigabyte caps need to disappear and they will where there's enough competition. 55% of Singapore is covered now and they'll be close to 100% next year.

Update 3 September: Vodafone in Spain announced a similar 300 megabit (shared) deployment rapidly going countrywide. By December, Voda will have 4G to 100% of Spanish towns of 25,000 or higher. 

   Rwanda will soon be supporting 750 megabits, as they build a network that can aggregate 5 carriers. The Africans look to leapfrog the west as they have plenty of spectrum available. There are very, very few phone wires in sub-Saharan Africa so the service will be wireless and they intend to make it efficient. 

~50 MHz Enough for a Verizon-sized Network. Really.

How many mobile networks can be supported in a given amount of bandwidth? Verizon is currently the best LTE network in the U.S., a good starting point. LTE is remarkably efficient, even without MIMO and better antennas. Based on Verizon data and eight grade math, I calculated all the traffic on Verizon's network could be easily handled in 50 MHz, about half of what they own. People were startled, but the number makes sense.

    Verizon's CFO, Fran Shammo told Wall Street 64% of all their traffic was being carried in 20 MHz with LTE. http://bit.ly/1pmLdyh If 64% fits in 20 MHz, than 100% of the traffic would require 31 MHz. My figure of about 50 MHz is well above that. 

    If spectrum owners like Dish or Lightsquared were to build a new network, 40-50 MHz would give them a very robust service. In effect, that's what Sprint is doing,  using other spectrum to maintain services to earlier customers not on LTE.

     It wouldn't be trivial to squeeze today's Verizon down to 50 MHz. Voice on Verizon's network currently goes over an inefficient 2G network; it would need to be moved to VoLTE, a process just beginning. VoLTE provides higher quality voice using much less bandwidth. Glen Campbell of Merrill pointed to that bandwidth savings as part of his 2009 analysis that the spectrum crisis was bogus. I asked one of the world's most respected engineers about Verizon's claim ""Verizon needs more spectrum and will need more than that in the future." He replied "c__p," although he was more polite when the recording was turned on. To get down to 50 MHz, Verizon would also need to move the 3G customers quickly to LTE. That might require subsidizing new phones, a large cost but not impossible. 

More traffic doesn't equal higher costs TOLL-1

Router salesRouter/switch $sales actually down. Anyone who says increased traffic is raising carrier costs is misinformed, as I and many other tech reporters have been saying for years. True, wireline traffic and customer counts continue to grow. Wireless traffic is up significantly in the last year. Yet the total dollars spent on service provider routers and switches actually declined in Q2 from last year. This is the largest category of equipment needed for increased broadband bandwidth. Other gear (DWDM, etc.) also came down in price. 

     Equipment costs have been falling as fast as traffic has been going up for at least the last decade. The net result has been the cost per month of a broadband customer has remained steady or slightly declined on any large network. That cost - less than $1/month - is about 2% or 3% of the price of the service.

AT&T or someone orders half million fiber homes

Jorge Mas CanosaMasTec gets $250M contract for 2015, 2016. "We were awarded a contract for approximately a quarter of a billion dollars of 1-gigabit fiber deployment work," CEO Jose Mas announced. Fiber opportunities "are much greater than people quite understand. I think we are in for an incredible cycle in that business" http://bit.ly/1p3ic4t He added "Every time you pick a publication in the telecommunications sector, it’s got a carrier talking about building out 1-gigabit capabilities and what you are seeing is, you’re seeing multiple markets today where you have multiple carriers building in the same markets.... We’re going to be working 1-gigabit work for multiple customers over the next couple of years.

     That this probably is AT&T is my conclusion. Mas carefully provided no information on who the customer was, despite being pressed by investment analysts.

3.8 Gigabit LTE. 3.8 Gigabit? Just a demo, but definitely feasible

Nokia demoMasayoshi Son at Sprint or Korea Telecom in Rwanda could deliver a gigabit in a few years. Nokia used 200 MHz, about 5 times the spectrum advanced carriers are using today, and achieved about 15 times the performance of today's better networks. Nokia has just demonstrated 3.8 gigabits, as you can see in this video. http://bit.ly/Nokia38

    A team at Rice & Cornell Universities have designed a chip they believe will support a similar 3.8 gigabits in only 100 MHz, the amount of spectrum available to Sprint as well as most of Latin America and Africa.  (Note below) Henry Samueli of Broadcom in a Marconi webinar predicted chips like that. Since 2011 and 3GPP release 10, every informed wireless engineer has known speeds will pass a gigabit (shared) on many commercial networks.

   That kind of performance is just what we'd expect as MU MIMO and massive MIMO come out of the labs. Some excellent engineers on Oct 2 in D.C. will be discussing MIMO 2025:  A 10x or 100x Capacity Multiplier? at the Marconi Symposium.  Stanford Professors Paulraj (inventor of MIMO) & Cioffi, Robert Lucky and Thomas Marzetta of Bell Labs, as well as Helmut Bölcskei of ETH Zurich are on the panel. http://bit.ly/MarconiDC  If you're in D.C. do attend; elsewhere, the webcast will be at http://marconisociety.org/blog/index.php/symposium-live-stream

   Re-farming alone should yield about 100 MHz in most countries, even without adding more monopoly spectrum. Good engineers debate whether the performance increase will be 25X, 50X or 100X today's average network, as long as the regulators are neither stupid nor corrupt.  

Soon come: 145 MHz spectrum, 3 gigabit speeds in Rwanda

Rwandan ORN workersKorea Telecom/Rwanda Government ORN spectrum could support ~2 gigabits across the country. While the initial rollout is using only 20 MHz, the Nokia equipment being installed can expand quickly to 60 MHz/400 megabits. There's a clear roadmap at least to 100 MHz with higher MIMO, enough to go well above a gigabit.  Nokia demonstrated 3.8 gigabits at the recent Mobile Asia event, using 200 MHz. http://bit.ly/38gigabits

   Joint venture ORN has 145 MHz of prime low band spectrum between 700 MHz and 900 MHz. This is one of the world's first wide allocations of spectrum, the most efficient way to increase capacity in the LTE and 5G era. Large spectrum blocks are the right move for capacity in any country with few wires, including India, Indonesia, and almost all of sub-Saharan Africa. 

AT&T & Verizon: We have enough capacity so spectrum isn't a big issue

Ralph de la Vega & Lowell McAdam are pros. More spectrum makes adding capacity cheaper but any wireless engineer can tell you the "spectrum crisis" is political bunkum. This week at Goldman Sachs, CEO McAdam of Verizon and President de la Vega of AT&T made clear they can move forward whether or not they get more spectrum. That confirms what the previous Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and AT&T's John Stankey had said in 2009. Both were comfident they'd do just fine. Five years later, their average customer speed on LTE is about 15 megabits, ten times as high as 2009. 

    Ralph, one of the most respected executives in the business, told investors "We feel really good about where we are. ... we don't have this burning desire for the need of coverage or for other reasons to go aggressively after Wi-Fi. Other operators that may have less coverage or have other needs, may pursue it more aggressively." Both Verizon and AT&T have boxed in the unused capacity of their customers DSL & fiber connections. Turning it on would add ?30%-50% more capacity in territory.

    Lowell, a trained engineer, "We have a lot of AWS spectrum, We have great capacity in place. We’re densifying the network with either small cells or LTE unlicensed. So the network has the capacity.  ... We have the assets in place. I don’t think we need a heckuva lot more. ... It goes a long way beyond just getting the spectrum. ... Always looking for efficiency. The small cell technology being deployed gives us a lot more capacity. ... WiFi is a critical part of the ecosystem managing the network. Using unlicensed spectrum is going to be important for us as we go forward. We intend to deploy LTE-U with the small cell technology, integrate it within the wider macro network, There are many dynamics that are involved in being more efficient. ,,, Even working with content providers to make sure you have the right formats to put less load on the networks."

    "We expect to see capex as a % of revenue to fall. I hope it continues at least at the absolute level," confirms that Verizon is not squeezed.

Stankey of AT&T: 5x5 spectrum blocks just aren't right

Rwandan coffee picker from Borlaug InstituteYet another conflict between efficiency and competition. At the coming U.S. AWS-3 auction, several of the lots are 5 MHz down and 5 MHz up, in order to let smaller companies bid. Small spectrum allocations are highly inefficient, cost more to build, waste some spectrum to avoid interference and possibly require special handsets to "aggregate" different bands.  The LTE-A that's deploying today is most efficient with 50-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum, not 5 MHz or 10 MHz. Older versions of LTE were designed around 10x10 bands. Competition is great when it works but the "cost of competition" is often very high. It's much cheaper to build one network instead of four or even two. lines.

DSL Tsunami over Europe: 40M Promised Vectored Lines


Europe going DSL, not fiber, except Spain, Scandinavia and perhaps France. When Deutsche Telekom in September 2012 decided to abandon fiber and go with vectored DSL, it inspired the DSL tsunami. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands are now delivering 50-100 megabit speeds to tens of thousands of paying customers. Alcatel, Huawei, Keymile and Adtran have shipped at least 5,000,000 ports capable of vectoring, although the telcos aren't offering the service to most of those homes. 

   Almost no one believed John & George back in 2003 when they predicted 100 megabit DSL to 500 meters and more. By 2010, vendors including Alcatel, Huawei and ECI had lab test; by 2011, Austria and Belgium telcos had some results from the field. By September 2012, the trend was clear, as you can see from the excerpt below of my DSL Tsunami article. 

     Deutsche Telekom promised their regulator they'd be vectoring by the end of 2013. They are almost a year late and still moving slowly, with only 200K homes eligible. They target 3.5M by the ebd of 2014 and 20M more in 2015 & 2016. Anyone want to bet on this?

Half Million broadband adds China Telecom’s worst month since 2007

4G launch nibbling at DSL. 550.000 adds in June is more than the U.S. adds in four months but is down about a quarter from last year. Other recent CT months are also down compared to prior years. Rival China Unicom added 378K for the month, but that’s also down a quarter from last year, same month. Update: July figures are in. Drops further to 530,000

    Telecom is at 104M, Unicom at 68M, both far ahead of any other carrier in the world. They’ve been the industry driver for years, so any slowdown will soon be reflected in equipment sales. Wireline broadband at China Tel brought in 55B ¥ ($9B), more than the combined total of wireline and wireless voice (48B¥.)

     The build in China is amazing compared to anywhere else.  CT added 15M homes passed with fiber last year, almost as much as the total of the largest build in the West. At current rates, CT will have passed 100M homes with fiber this fall. 33M have already subscribed, many switching from DSL.

4 U.S. Companies: 70% of the Net, 78% of Pay TV

Wall Street Journal Stats

Shalini Ramachandran dramatically shows how concentrated the U.S. is getting. This chart from the Wall Street Journal shows how little competition we have in the United States. When Tom Wheeler lets through the giant Comcast-Time Warner merger, Brian Roberts will control 36% of the U.S. broadband market. Add AT&T, Verizon & Cox and 4 companies control 70% of the U.S. fast Internet. Not long ago, we had 7 Baby Bells, GTE and a dozen fairly large MSO's. The industry has about half as many companies today. 

     Columbia's Eli Noam, the world's leading public intellectual in communications, calculates that concentration in U.S. broadband went up 60% from 2002 to 2013. The prices in the U.S. are "higher than in many other countries." Lack of competition holds back innovation, which Noam believes essential for the U.S. to compete when so many countries have lower wages. The high prices result in high profits that may increase investment, Eli added. Christopher Yoo has done some work that suggests there is an effect, although personally I find competition and improved technology a far more important factor. Eli's book, Media Ownership and Concentration in America, is the standard reference. The follow-up, Who Owns the World's Media?: Media Concentration and Ownership around the World  http://bit.ly/noammedia is a thousand page opus with many international co-authors, soon to be published.

Comcast, Verizon & AT&T proved how effective that market power can be by forcing Netflix to pay them to send video to their customers. Sender pays is a mistake. There's no way to reach 21 million homes without going through Comcast. That's called a "terminating monopoly." Broadband customers typically won't change ISPs for 5 years or more so Comcast's control will continue. A video company can't make it if blocked from a quarter of the customers in the U.S., especially if the other ISPs do the same. 

    At 36% of the U.S., Comcast will be large enough to destroy almost any independent video company. They haven't used that power maliciously but the profits from aggressive charging will be hard to resist. With no choice, video providers will have to pay even exorbitant rates. Some of that inevitably will be passed on to consumers.  

Bells promise nothing on 3.5 GHz

IEEE 5G posterWasting enough spectrum to increase most homes' Internet speed 100-500 megabits. 150 MHz at 3.5 GHz is the largest spectrum band likely to become available for many years. AT&T and Verizon of course want to control as much as possible, even though they likely will not build the small cells they want it reserved for. I wrote ten days ago 3.5 GHz Spectrum: Bells want it but WiFi clearly a better choice. http://bit.ly/1vV1cH Further research and a chance to discuss the issues at TPI Aspen bring me back to the subject.

   In a few years. AT&T will almost certainly be focusing their "small cells" either on conventional WiFi (the best choice) or using 5G small cells at millimeter wavelengths, probably 28 GHz. Japan is confident they will deploy 28 GHz by 2018, because the hundreds of MHz available at high frequencies can easily carry gigabits. Capacity will be 10's or 100's of times more than at 3.5 GHz. Anyone at AT&T who doubts 28 GHz/5G should ask AT&T Group President and Chief Strategy Officer, John Stankey. He keynoted the 5G Summit at NYU Wireless and you could tell where their roadmap was headed. It's absurd to hold things back based on technology the D.C. lobbyists haven't yet realized is out of date.

    China Mobile has just ended their small cell build after spending $3B and deploying 4.3 million cells. LTE is working so well they'd rather invest in more LTE bandwidth than in small cells. A friend at the FCC asked me for my source because he couldn't find anything to confirm it. The details come from a story from China http://it.sohu.com/20140703/n401704351.shtml, which I read in Google translation. Robert Clark's blog http://bit.ly/XUPNZj, picked up by Light Reading, pointed me to the Chinese source. If I have time, I'll write up the details. CM used carrier WiFi, not LTE, but the economic problems are similar. I learned working at the Vermont Tel project that backhaul costs usually kill the economics of carrier small cells.

   This chart from Nokia suggests an 80% drop in cost of delivering a gigabyte over LTE. Verizon and AT&T have done a great job proving how well LTE can work. LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, MIMO and MU MIMO are just starting to be deployed and will increase capacity on basically the same infrastructure at least 5X and maybe 25X. Stanford's Andrea Goldsmith predicted in a Marconi webinar “Wireless capacity can grow 50-100x in the next 5-10 years. The technology is becoming clear." Her Stanford colleague Arogyaswami Paulraj and legendary engineer Henry Samueli concurred. A few days ago, Vint Cerf agreed.

Comcast-Time Warner:$10 for poor families, 50 megabits for most

David Cohen

David Cohen announced at TPI Aspen most of the subscribers in both Comcast and Time Warner will soon have 50 megabit service. Poor families will be able to get broadband for $10/month in New York, Los Angeles and other Time Warner territories. Other groups in need may be covered. (I suggest Medicaid recipients and less affluent senior citizens.)

I applauded when Cohen said, "Comcast strongly supports net neutrality" some issues remain with their practice. I was sitting at a table with senior AT&T & Verizon execs who looked glum. Net Neutrality will sidetrack the Bells' effort to get their "New Telecom Act" through Congress, Congressman Rick Boucher predicted. "Unless Net Neutrality is compromised, the bill won't go through in the next two years." Any support for neutrality makes it harder for the Bells to get their bill.

Comcast's $10 offer for the poor has connected more people to the net than $billion of mostly wasted government money. The program's not perfect, but Comcast has consistently simplified procedures and eliminated red tape. It's tragic that JG allowed the other cable companies to renege on their commitment to do similar made to the broadband planners. The Bells have done nothing for the poor. They've now have some of the highest prices in the developed world. The cheapest offering on Verizon's FiOS website is about $75 including fees; it was about half that a few years ago.

CEO Brian Roberts and EVP David Cohen strike me as decent men who want to do the right thing, especially for the poor. Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon likewise demonstrated good faith in his dealings and was very proud he delivered two of the best networks in the world, FiOS fiber and the first really big LTE network. They are hard driving and very effective businessman who undoubtedly have charged over many on the way to great riches. Almost no one gets to their level without making choices that put their company's interests before consumers. Of course they know they get pr value from moves like these, but they at least get done. As we say in Yiddish, most top executives I've met would rather be mensches than gonifs.

Not all succeed.

Not so fast on G.fast

Not a gigabit; a demo, not a field trial; 2016 or later. The reality of G.fast is impressive, 200-600 megabits over short loops of perhaps 100 meters.  G.fast is the telcos' answer to 400 meg and faster DOCSIS. New York, Los Angeles and much of Europe are getting 300-400 megabit (shared) cable this year. Kabel Deutschland is optimistic on a gigabit (shared.) But the hype goes further.

At two extraordinary recent conferences I met nearly all the top engineers working on G.fast. Les Brown, Tom Starr and others from standards; Hubert Mariotte, Trevor Linney and more from the carriers; Chip guys (they are all guys) Dudi Baum, Rami Verbin, Debajyoti Pal, from Lantiq & Broadcom. Analysts Teresa Mastrangelo, Erik Keith, Richard Jones, Rupert Wood, Stephen Wilson. No one has anything ready to sell, which improved the conversation. 

Here's some basics they told me:


That's the only thing most people know about G.fast and most have it wrong. There are certain circumstances in which speed goes to a gigabit, so the ITU Standards Committee press release has some truth. Bands have to be notched out to avoid interference. Vectoring to cancel noise is required and difficult to implement at the speeds involved. It's not clear when, if ever, the full bandwidth will be put to use. 

    Swisscom has set expectations of 580 megabits at 100 meters and 280 megabits at 200 meters. Speed falls off very rapidly after that. G.fast is only 40 megabits at 400 meters, much slower than vectored VDSL at that distance. G.fast speeds are measured as combined upstream and downstream. Time domain multiplexing allows varying the ratio.

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