Chinese Dragon by Anna FrodesiakJun Zhang, deputy chief engineer of China Telecom Shanghai., was surprised when this New York reporter called him and his colleagues heroes. They have connected directly to fiber more than 272M homes, twice as much as the entire rest of the world. 

There are well over 300M homes passed. 92% of urban homes are covered by fiber. Cities like Shanghai are close to 100% covered. Nearly all the fiber build was done in five years. Prices are relatively low. I am not blind to the authoritarian Chinese state, but I can also admire the achievements. 

LTE is approaching 1 billion users, with speeds constantly increasing. China Mobile is among the top four in 5G mmWave plans and the second to embrace Massive MIMO. 

The three government-owned companies are all profitable and expanding aggressively. A minority of shares are held privately, but the government retains total control, routinely hiring and firing CEOs who haven't performed.

The Chinese telcos are very competent but have no secret way to bring down costs. Labor costs remain lower than European, but have gone up fourfold. The savings in labor costs cannot explain the success.

Shanghai has ~99% fiber coverage. Jun Zhang described a dozen operational efficiencies, which closely align with the better Western carriers.

The primary driver was the government decision in 2011. To support Broadband China, the companies were told to convert to fiber. The government's goal was a patriotic move and all the managers saw themselves as patriots. They went all out to deliver and the results are clear.

Germany and the U.S. have set goals for broadband and the companies just laughed. They hire million dollar silver tongues who dissuade the government from action. The Big 3 - Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon - each spend over $100M a year buying influence.

Part of the way government in China gets things done is by forcing companies, including those state-owned, to compete. Managers know failing on profit goals will cost them their job. China Mobile and China Unicom have seen major management changes. 

Strong facts make clear many policy assumptions are bogus. Personally, I prefer to solve problems with strong competition. But I can't deny the evidence.

Two/thirds of the new broadband connections in recent years are by government-owned companies, including Viettel and others. Some government outfits do badly: Australia;s NBN is ten billion over budget and spending two or three times what Verizon spends on the similar construction. India's BSNL is a disaster. But other public companies do well.

Five years ago, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer told a press conference that there were no examples of successful government broadband. He was wrong then and it would be laughable to say so today.

"Incentives," the Obama nudge policies, generally fail. The FCC claims 5% of the U.S. in 2017 lacks broadband, despite $7B in stimulus funding. The figure in 2010 was also 5%. (Lots of funny numbers here.)

The policy goal is investments in better networks; "Incentives" are a poor tool, not a goal. 

 

 

 

Latest

April 18

“My three biggest customers are marching to 7 and 5 nanometers.” Lip-Bu Tan. Moore’s Law ain’t dead yet.

Eric Xu, current Huawei Chairman, said consumers would find no “material difference between 4G & 5G.” Dozens of top engineers agree the "5G Revolution" is hokum, including  DT CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, FT/Orange SVP Arnaud Vamparys, and BT CEO Gavin Patterson.
     Politicians and marketers pushed b_______. What’s coming for 5-10 years is good for telco capacity but otherwise disappointing. Unfortunately. 
     On the other hand, mmWave & Massive MIMO are improving at a ferocious rate, advancing telco capacity enormously. Massive MIMO has made it practical to use 3.5 GHz frequencies, a second remarkable booster. The "5G Revolution" is dead; Long Live the real 5G and advanced wireless!
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U.S. attacks on Huawei and ZTE look to be an historic disaster.


China’s logical response is to invest to become independent of the U.S. They already have $100B on the table for memory chips and are rumored to add another $100B. Huawei/HiSilicon already holds their own against Qualcomm and everyone else in the world. 
    Zeng Xuezhong of Spreadtrum, world #3 mobile chipmaker, confirms: China will “speed up the chip R&D investment that is self-controlled and self-researched. We must never forget to make it bigger and stronger.”
     U.S. warships patrolling China’s seas inspire security fears. So does Trump’s threat to a country on China’s border."Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, [for] fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
     China would be stupid not to have domestic capacity just in case. The Chinese leadership is not stupid.
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The year's best wireless conference is next week. Ted Rappaport, Sandeep Rangan and colleagues bring the world's best engineers to the Brooklyn 5G Conference Summit. This year, Paulraj, Onoe, Fettweis, Katabi, and their peers are coming. Do not miss the webcast, http://bit.ly/2HuOKqW .

April 10

A special report: Who Are The Three Billion? The Color Of The Net Has Changed http://bit.ly/netcolor
1/3rd wireless only, 2/3rds in Global South, 75% not native English speakers.