neo TokyoSoftbank was startled by large signups for fixed wireless in Tokyo, a city with almost 100% coverage of fiber home. T-Mobile in Austria has also seen a trend.

The new customers were primarily young. They wanted a service they could take with them if they changed apartments. The fiber connects and reconnects are a headache.

Softbank has nominal speeds of hundreds of megabits and practical speeds of at least a couple of dozen megabits in most of Tokyo. That is enough for most people, most of the time. 

Unless they download heavily, most people don't often need speeds of hundreds of megabits. Two HD TV stream and plenty of surfing fit easily into 12 megabits. 

Softbank is a world leader in Massive MIMO, putting 64 antennas on cell towers to increase capacity. That typically increases throughput 3X or more. Often, the improvement is 10X. 

Softbank has tuned their massive MIMO to give better performance at the edge of the cell site. With that many antennas, you can direct the beam to the area most needing coverage. While the headline on Massive MIMO comes from the increased high speed, tuning the network to help those with the worst service may be more useful.

The ability to tune the beam means you may need fewer towers. As performance at the edge improves, the reach of an existing tower increases. With towers often costing $200,000, even in the emerging world, the savings may bring the effective cost down to a more affordable level. 

It's crucial to consider how many will switch off their landlines and go mobile only for data. With LTE speeds often in the hundreds of megabits, the speed is fine for many.

Capacity is the brake on the switch to wireless. Landlines can carry ten times the data, but not everyone needs that. Data caps of 5-10 Gigabytes/months allow only ~two hours/week of quality video. Caps are getting higher, with Free in France proposing 100 gigabytes for $23. That's still below the 200 gigabytes average usage in many countries. 

Gigabits are great and an exciting future. Since it takes years to upgrade networks, everything built now should be far more robust than last year's service.

Some people's needs are below average.

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Breaking: Verizon announced 5G to 30M homes. Reporters from the Wall Street Journal to the Albanian Times treated this as big news. I had the story May 2, if I may brag a little. “The decision had been made to go to a one-third to one-half the United States.” Key takeaways: "Every variable tested during the trials came out better than assumed," including 600 meter median reach. 5G mmWave is so cheap capex won't go up.

On the contrary, BT, FT, & DT recently said they would go slow on 5G mmWave (2022-2024 for most.) They already cover nearly their entire country with broadband; Verizon only about one quarter of the U.S. VZ has incentive to build out of market; the Europeans don’t. More below.

London: Princess Leia was here at the Huawei MBBF. Huawei hosted a 5G demo of a woman suspended in space. It wasn’t actually Leia, but you almost expected the highly realistic 3D rendered figure to start saying “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re our only hope.” (It also was on a special 2D screen rather than a hologram floating in mid-air.)

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