No Need for 5G?

At least some observers might have argued that “we do not need 3G.” Some might have argued there “is no need for 4G.” So it is not surprising that some argue there is no need for 5G, either.
One argument might be that data growth actually is not as robust as many believe it is. Video is the reason most-often given for why capacity is needed. But some might point out that video already represents more than 50 percent of total mobile network. Some might argue that future growth, though substantial, is a glass half filled. In other words, there will be significant growth, but not orders of magnitude growth.
Many of the new use cases likewise will be satisfied by existing fixed network assets.
Others might argue that, although 5G will enable many internet of things apps, 5G will not be needed for many such apps and use cases.
The point, some might argue, is that the commercial revenue drivers for 5G are not entirely clear. So argues William Webb, Ofcom senior technologist, for example.

Where Cable ISPs Compete, They Win?

The U.S. internet access market is one of the few in the world where cable TV operators have been driving consumer internet access speed advances over the last decade. The United Kingdom is another such market.
In 2016, for example, on U.S. fixed networks, “average” speed increased 40 percent in a single year, and most of that was driven by Comcast and other cable TV operators.
In the United Kingdom, in 2016, Virgin Media, the U.K. cable operator, was far and away the fastest ISP, offering speeds more than twice as fast as BT or BT’s wholesale customers and about four times faster than ISPs using unbundled local loop access.
source: Ookla
source: Ookla
But speed is not the only significant business model impact in the U.S. and U.K. markets. At least as important--and arguably more important-- is the dramatic change in potential market shares obtainable by any former telco in such a market.
Facing accomplished competitors with scale, skill and other business resources, including their ow…

Absent a Disruption, U.S. Telcos Will See Internet Access Share Between 28% and 45%

How well can any telco do, in terms of internet access market share, when facing accomplished competitors with scale, skill and other business resources, including their own facilities?
Verizon’s experience with its FiOS service suggests the answer is “40 percent to 45 percent of the market,” even when fiber to the home is the access platform.  
"At the end of the second quarter of 2017, cable had a 64 percent market share versus 36 percent for telcos,” said Bruce Leichtman, Leichtman Research Group president and principal analyst.
Unless something breaks the current trend, telos could collectively become something of an afterthought in the access business, with market share as low as 28 percent by 2020, according to New Street Research. source: New Street Research
Stranding 60 percent of the deployed capital in FTTH access networks is one very good reason for some service providers to look at 5G fixed wireless. If the maximum share is range bound around 40 percent to 50 percent, t…

What Needs Explaining is Telecom Price Increases

Even if one assumes there is relatively-constant pressure on retail communications service products, those price trends for fixed and mobile network services need deciphering.
Global prices, measured as a percentage of gross national per-capita income, have fallen at least since 2008, according to the International Telecommunications Union. But what requires explanation is higher prices, where they happen.
In the U.S. market, since at least 2009, prices have generally fallen for some products such as mobile service, mobile voice and texting.
Also, internet access prices have fallen about five percent since 2009. But prices for fixed network voice and content subscriptions have risen.

source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Even prices for internet access services, generally stronger in some quarters because consumers now are buying faster services that cost more than slower services, have dipped since 2009, with most of the drop happening in 2017.
source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Yes, 5G is a Gamble. But it is, in Some Markets, a Very Necessary Gamble

The commercial revenue drivers for 5G are not entirely clear, argues William Webb, Ofcom senior technologist. The “vision is flawed,” he argues.
On the other hand, in many markets, mobile operators will require speeds that “can compete with fiber services,” says Sam Barker, Juniper Research analyst. That means 5G is necessary, in the same way that optical fiber has been necessary to boost fixed network bandwidth (no matter how deep into the distribution network a service provider deploys it).
In that sense, it is not so useful to know that perhaps 1.4 billion 5G connections will be in service by 2025, up from one million in 2019, the anticipated first year of commercial launch, as Juniper Research now forecasts will be the case.
Many, perhaps most, of those connections likely will be accounts that already were buying 4G services. That is a familiar situation for many fixed network service providers moving from copper access to optical fiber: for nearly every account gain for “fiber-ba…