"Gigabit without a backhoe. ... We don't have to dig up the streets and can go incredibly fast. You're going to see us go coast-to-coast in the next 12 months," Comcast CTO Tony Werner tells Amy Maclean in a short but important interview. I'm told there are unannounced Comcast deployments of DOCSIS 3.1 in Chicago and California, as well as the large public trial in Atlanta. I'm guessing that Comcast has already upgraded the CMTS for millions of lines, ready to turn on large systems when they believe everything is ready. (That's consistent with what manufacturers are shipping but I don't have confirmation.)
Cable supplier Arris expects substantial sales of DOCSIS 3.1 modems starting early next year, which is consistent with Tony's prediction. Note that the high speeds are likely to be download only. Upload looks mostly to be 90% slower.
Cablecos seem to be choosing not to do the advanced splits for DOCSIS 3.1 upstream, preferring instead to wait for "full duplex." That's years from mass deployment.
Update 8/5 Comcast pointed out to me that Atlanta & Nashville trials were first half 2016 with Chicago, Detroit, and Miami scheduled for the second half of this year. What's a trial and what's a deployment is unclear; the rumor is that Comcast has installed enough equipment to reach many homes very quickly. That's unconfirmed.
Werner went on to point out why Comcast (and other incumbents) have a huge advantage in highband 5G. "They want to use very high frequencies ... with that, you need very deep fiber and a great backhaul network. [Cable] is positioned very well because of our underlying infrastructure." Opening up high frequencies is a good thing, and CableLabs has done a good job of positioning. See U.S. Cable: "The Wireless Future is Us."
However, high frequency 5G is a competition killer, at least as proposed by AT&T and Verizon. Unless near-monopolies are acceptable, very strong measures will be required to allow meaningful competition. It may be that the cost of millimeter wave most places will make it a natural monopoly or duopoly. "It's an incumbent's game," a major CTO tells me.
Werner added, "There's nothing on the network that will slow the roll of virtual reality." DOCSIS 3.1 is designed for 10 millisecond latency. (Lower is possible.) Werner's comment confirmed my research; the Oculus Rift, for example, features 11 millisecond latency. This raises doubts about the claim that 5G must achieve 1 millisecond for VR, made by Nokia and Huawei. One millisecond latency in 5G would be very expensive, I'm told, because it would require moving most of the intelligence to the base station. (Going through the network routers takes too long.) The vendors are happy to sell more expensive equipment. Their customers, the telcos, mostly seem to be targeting ~5 milliseconds to keep the cost down.
There is no known volume application that requires 1 millisecond except control of high speed traffic - which probably doesn't belong on the same network anyway.
Update 8/5 Wide Open West, #6 U.S. cableco, will go widely to 1 gig this year for some customers and 600 Mbps for all customers. Alan Breznick, LR Mediacom, #5, is also reaching some this year and will go to "virtually all of the 3 million homes and businesses passed in the 1,500 communities of its 22-state footprint." Also LR. #3, Cox, has told me they will soon be moving very aggressively on gigabit DOCSIS 3.1.
Here's a Huawei promotion for 1 millisecond. Nokia Alcatel, Ericsson & Qualcomm have said similar. Then the Comcast release about the early trials, including five cities for 2016,
5G Vision: 100 Billion connections, 1 ms Latency, and 10 Gbps Throughput
Mobile networks are changing the way people communicate and access information. Network access at anytime and anywhere is transforming the telecom industry. In the near future, wireless network access will eventually prevail. 5G technology will enable flexible, reliable, and secure wireless networks to connect people with all applications, services, and things, thus leading human race into the era of "Everything on Mobile".
In the "Everything on Mobile" era, mobile networks must meet requirements more diverse than ever. These requirements can be identified from three dimensions: number of connections, latency, and throughput. These three dimensions together will bring unprecedented challenges to future 5G networks:
1. Number of connections. Although a 4G network provides thousands of connections for each cell, a 4G network cannot meet the connection needs of Everything on Mobile. A 5G network provides up to a million connections per square kilometer. This will bring an exponential increase in the number of connections.
2. Latency. The latency on a 4G network, 50 ms, is half of that of a 3G network, . However, applications such as self-driving cars still require much lower latency than a 4G network.
3. Throughput. A higher throughput will better meet consumer needs. The throughput of a 4G network is 10 times higher than that of a 3G network, but once 4K video services become popular, the 4G network cannot meet the new throughput demands.
To meet the preceding requirements, 5G should have the following performance advantages over existing mobile communication technologies:
- 100 billion connections
- 1 ms latency
- 10 Gbps throughput
Based on the features of 5G networks and the development trend for Internet of Things, Huawei has identified some typical application scenarios during the process of 5G innovation as below:
100 Billion connections
Personal Assets on Mobile
As wearable devices gain popularity, an increasing number of wearable technologies will be connected to the network. Wearable devices will provide healthcare management, improve quality of life, and work efficiency. For example, ultra-light, ultra-thin, low energy-consumption, and waterproof sensors can be implanted into sportswear. These sensors will monitor the atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and air quality of the external environment, and monitor a wearer's blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing, and skin humidity. The sensors will send the collected data to a database through a network, where a life management system analyzes the data and sends real-time messages to wearers to avoid putting their health at risk. The life management system also helps the wearer adjust diet, sleep, and exercise.
The capability of massive connection provided by 5G will enable extremely meticulas management for the logistics industry in the future. Before every piece in a delivery leaves the consighnor, a passive RFID will be attached to it. Throughout the entire the process of delivery, these RFIDs will report in real time the detailed information of the current position and environment of the delivered pieces they are attached to, such as temperature and humidity, light intensity, purity of air, speed of movement, intensity of viberation. With such data reported, the carrier and its clients can easily grasp the current positions and status of all deliveries, based on which, the carrier and its clients can plan the activities to take after the delivery scientifically. Also, once any alarm of exception is reported, the carrier can take countermeasures immediately and precisely.
Agriculture applications in the future will realize the importance of managing and fine-tuning rural works. Farms of the future will widely deploy a large number of soil quality sensors providing real-time data on the amount of fertility and humidity in the soil to precisely control fertilization and irrigation. Near the farm, sensors will be deployed to monitor the temperature, humidity, wind, and sunshine. In the river, sensors will be deployed to monitor water quality. Timely corrective measures can be implemented if the data indicates that the river is polluted. Farmers can monitor diseases, blood pressure, and body temperature, as well as the locations of their livestock by implanting sensors into the animals. The intelligent agricultural system consisting of various sensors will reduce cost, improve efficiency, and increase needs for narrowband connections.
1 ms Latency
If intelligent traffic management becomes a reality in future cities, more and more self-driving cars will appear on the road. To guarantee traffic safety, when a control command, braking for example, is sent to a car, the car must receive the command within 1 ms.
The latency of a 4G network cannot meet this requirement. With the latency of 4G network, a car driving at 100 km/h still moves 1.4 m from the time it finds a obstacle to the time when the braking command is executed.
Under the same condition, with the latency on a 5G network, the car will move just 2.8 cm, and this performance is comparable with the standard of an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
10 Gbps Throughput
Virtual Reality and Immersive Experience
Virtual reality and immersive experience bring dramatic changes to many industries, including gaming, education, virtual design, healthcare, and art. Take education for example. For students living in areas with limited educational resources, virtual reality technology enables instruction and interaction with teachers in a virtual classroom, and even enables them to perform tasks such as carrying out experiments in a virtual laboratory.
To make this come true, the resolution of virtual reality image and immersive video needs to approximate to the amount of detail the human retina can perceive. This requires that the throughput be 300 Mbps and above, almost 100 times higher than the current throughput supporting HD video services.
Smartphone users not only watch video, but also make videos of their own. When an interesting HD video clip is made, they hope the upload speed is fast enough to share it with others immediately. In the 5G era, the speed of cloud storage can be as fast as storing files locally. The uplink rate of a network will reach 1 Gbps, increasing the uplink rate of an existing network 100 fold.
The world of the near future will be a super-connected one, and the dreams of self-driving cars, remote surgery, virtual reality, and immersive experience will be realized. The next wave of the technological revolution will create a smart world. Join us to build a better interconnected world.