Can 5G Compete with Cable Broadband? A response from 5G

I asked Nokia’s Brian Pickering about Doug Dawson’s timely Pots and Pans 5G blog post today.  Brian shared this response with me and Blandin on Broadband blog readers.  You can see Brian’s presentation to our Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable here:


This has been a heavy debated topics with the big operators, cable industry and others.  The discussion has always centered around the business case for 5G – number of house covered, uptake of customers per cell site, etc  vs trenching fiber to the house or through a subdivision.

mmWave and cmWave is the best for this solution.  mmWave having large bandwidth, but small coverage AND requires an external antenna to receive the signal as the signal will not penetrate the exterior walls.  There is a high power CPE coming to the market in the 2H 2020, which may eliminate the outdoor antenna.  cmWave is great for the coverage, but the speed may be comparable to cable guys, and outdoor antenna is not required.

I have heard from a cable company, they believe 5G to the home is a case by case for deployment – a tool in the tool box.  Will use 5G where it makes the most economical sense.  With that said, the big cable operators do not have a large amount spectrum yet.  Windstream small regional operator has 28Ghz spectrum.

Verizon as you know have pushed 5G to the home and had small success with it.  They have launched it in 6 markets, but its very limited in its geographic area.  Tmobile stated over a year ago they will go after the cable industry using their 2.5Ghz spectrum, using the same business model and process they do for wireless.  The cable guys continue monitor and test 5G to better understand what the telecom guys are doing.

Prior to the pandemic, cellular systems were lightly loaded in residential areas during the day as everyone went to work, traffic picked up in the evening, but overall still not heavily loaded.  Verizon looks at 5G to the home as a benefit to the network, as it helps use a lightly loaded network in the evenings or at night.

5G to the home is probably more appealing to the 20 &30 year olds – where they can take it anywhere at any time.  Example, my eldest has a 6 month co-op internship, he was  not able to get cable at his apartment because the cable company wanted a 1 year contract.  So, he is connecting his computer to his cell phone so he can watch Netflix, youtube, etc.

Hope that helps.  If you have any questions, please let me know.


Broadband Roundtable on 5G archive

Today, Brian Pickering of Nokia shared a interesting and digestible presentation on 5G wireless during the Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable.  Brian is the VP of 5G Product Sales North America for Nokia.  Brian is responsible for creation and implementation of the 5G sales strategy as well as business development in North America.

Brian outlined the three legs of the 5G stool that combine low latency, high reliability, capacity and connectivity:

  • Extreme mobile broadband with greater than 10 Gbps peak data rates with 100 Mbps available whenever needed
  • Critical machine communication
  • Massive machine communication

Critically important to understanding 5G is knowing how radio spectrum impacts performance.  He described that as the frequency increases, data rates go up and coverage area goes down.  The lower frequencies, like 600 MHz are used by TMobile to deliver broadband in rural areas across a wide area.  The higher frequencies, also known as millimeter wave, in the 24-28 GHz range, are primarily for stadiums, factories, etc.  South Korea and other countries are making strong use of the 3.5 GHz frequencies which is a sweet spot for capacity and range.  The US is in the process of making this available via auction for future use.  Brian’s slides clearly show how different spectrum impacts coverage and business strategy.

Brian highlighted the current and future applications where 5G’s greatest potential will be realized.  Machine to machine communication and virtual and augmented reality are two important applications.  Watch the webinar here:  Download the slides here

Next week, Ann Treacy will host a conversation on Rural Mental Health and Telehealth with local experts from MN Rural Health Association, NAMI MInnesota and MN Department of Health. (More info soon.)

5G articles from Paul Weirtz

Some good pushback on the 5G/Coronavirus conspiracy theories:

5G – Here are a couple of articles helping to debunk the “Coronavirus is caused by 5G”.  I think the media has actually been very helpful with all of this: 

Online chat: Continue reading

EVENT July 14: Broadband Roundtable on 5G

An invitation from the Blandin Foundation

Join Blandin Foundation on Zoom Tuesday morning at 9:00 am for our weekly Broadband Roundtable conversation. This week we will talk about 5G with guest expert, Brian Pickering. Brian is Nokia’s Vice President of 5G Product Sales North America. This is a great opportunity to learn about how 5G technologies and services might impact your community’s broadband services and the way that your residents, organizations and businesses use technology.

You can register for this and future Roundtables here

For more information, or to share ideas for future Roundtable starter topics, contact Mary Magnuson at

Turns out T-Mobile had IP traffic issues that slowed service on Monday (June 15)

I mentioned network outages on Monday when I wasn’t able to reach either of my parents, who are both on T-Mobile. Fierce Wireless reports on what happened…

The outages, which started June 15 just after 12 p.m. ET and continued for about 13 hours, were an “IP traffic related issue” that “created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day,” according to an update around midnight from T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert.

Looks like voice and text were down, but not data…

While voice and texting were down, Sievert said data services were working throughout the day, so customers could use apps and services like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype to reach people.

Still, the duration of the T-Mobile’s outage was not insignificant. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage “unacceptable” and said the agency is launching an investigation.

And it looks like T-Mobile was the issue…

There were complaints that AT&T and Verizon customers were also experiencing problems with service, but both carriers confirmed Monday that their respective networks were working normally. A Verizon spokesperson at the time said it was aware another carrier was having network issues and “calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

Networks down all over the US June 15

I wondered why my dad was ignoring me. Then I tried to call my mom and couldn’t get through.  I had to remember my childhood home phone number, which thankfully worked. My parents are OK.

Their networks are not. I looked to find one article that spoke to issues with several carriers. WCVB (ABC TV out of Boston I think) reports…

If you’re having problems with your cell phone, it seems you’re not alone. Customers of multiple cell phone carriers are reporting widespread outages.

According to Downdetector, a website that tracks outage reports, the outage is impacting customers of T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon.

“Our engineers are working to resolve a voice and data issue that has been affecting customers around the country,” Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s president of technology tweeted. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have this fixed shortly.”

In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson from Verizon said, “Verizon’s network is performing well. We’re aware that another carrier is having network issues. Calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message.”

AT&T says their network is working properly, but users of the carrier continue to report problems with their devices.

“Our network is operating normally, but it’s possible some customers are unable to reach people on other carriers’ networks,” AT&T said on Twitter.

My limited experience pointed to T-Mobile but again my experience is very limited. No cause was listed here. I will keep an eye out. It’s been such a strange year, I don’t even dare to imagine what’s going on.

I checked out Downdetector. They track downtime for providers and websites. The graphic of their homepage take at 6:17pm CST says it all. Lots of places experiencing problems still – a few seem to be on the mend…

Winona County to vote on approval of a 300-foot telecommunications tower near Lewiston (June 8)

Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

The Winona County Board of Commissioners is set to vote Monday on approval of a 300-foot-tall telecommunications tower near Lewiston.

The tower, to be built by Powder River Development Services of Rochester, will enhance communications in rural areas of the county, supporters said.

Communication capacity for first responders, distance learners and home-based workers will be improved, they said, noting that there has been a long-term effort by state leaders to enhance broadband accessibility in rural Minnesota.

The county’s Planning Commission approved the proposal last month, attaching a number of conditions. Included were requirements for filtering devices to reduce interference with other signals; correcting any interference issues at the tower owner’s expense; and dismantling and removal of the tower at the owner’s expense if it ever stands vacant for more than a year.

Jacobson Community Center get creative with WiFi

The best introductin to community wifi goes to Jacobson Community Center newsletter in Jacobson MN…

A stellar member of our community (who is a Star Trek fan) reported the following dream/vision that occurred to him during his afternoon siesta. He found himself on the Star Ship Enterprise. Dr. Spock was addressing Captain Kirk: “Captain I detect a WI-FI signal from the JCC Farmers Hall. Beam me down to determine if lifeforms exist! “ The good Dr. Spock was transported down to the hall and indeed observed a newly installed WI-FI system!! He was transported back to the Enterprise and enthusiastically reported to the captain “these are not just ordinary life forms. But lifeforms of extreme intelligence, they have WI-FI !!!” I personally don’t know how much credibility should be assigned to our member’s vision? He vehemently insists that Dr. Spock was indeed in our building and left clues behind as prove of his visit. Fact or Fiction? I dont know.

BUT… The one fact I KNOW is it is true the hall does have WI-FI available, In the building and west parking lot. Password is: manpowersyrup530 Thanks to Aitkin County and especially Ross Wagner who acquired the grant and arranged installation of equipment.

What would the founding Fathers of the Hall think ?

Northeast Service Cooperative and CTC map public WiFi spots in NE MN

I can imagine this has saved a few hours for a lot of people. Through a partnership between CTC & NESC, an interactive map has been created that shows public WiFi locations.  As more sites come online they will get added.  This resource should help parents and students find and use quality broadband.

AT&T expands 5G to Duluth, St Cloud and Le Sueur County

AT&T reports…

AT&T’s 5G network is now live for consumers in 90 additional markets across the country and covers more than 120 million people. With today’s launch, AT&T now offers access to 5G on its best unlimited wireless plans for consumers and businesses in a total of 190 markets in the U.S.

“At a time when technology is proving to be even more essential for communication, AT&T customers can rest assured that our company is continuing to invest in our network and new technologies to make connection easier,” said Chris Sambar, EVP of Technology Operations. “We remain focused on launching AT&T 5G in more markets and to more customers across the country – building on the nation’s best and fastest wireless network* – and plan to reach nationwide coverage this summer.”

The latest 5G markets available this week include:


44. Duluth

45. Le Sueur County

46. St. Cloud

Treehouse Broadband Needs $150,000 to bring fixed wireless to Morse (St Louis County)

Ely Echo reports on a broadband project that would serve the town of Morse but needs $150,000 in funding to deploy…

A revised broadband project that would provide much-needed service to rural Ely residents in the Town of Morse has hit a funding snag.
The project now seeks to use cutting edge wireless technology to provide up to 200Mbps service to customers within line-of-sight of towers and repeater sites. Customers without line-of-sight may be eligible for service up to 25Mbps.
Currently these residences and businesses have to choose between nearly non-existent speeds from Frontier or gamble on satellite connections.
Isaac Olson of Treehouse Broadband, LLC gave an update to the Morse board Tuesday, describing how the point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless broadband system would serve over 300 locations in the Burntside Lake, Little Long Lake and Wolf Lake areas.
The $600,000 project would include two 100 foot towers along with repeater sites and at customer homes and businesses Treehouse would install 18-inch receiver dishes and indoor WiFi coverage.
The project has a $150,000 funding gap as it currently sits. The Town of Morse has committed $100,000, Treehouse Broadband has pledged $200,000 and the IRRRB has shown interest in half of the remaining $150,000.
Under current funding rules, the IRRRB only provides up to 25% of the funding, looking to state broadband monies to provide the rest.
But those monies have been committed for the current fiscal cycle, meaning if the state legislature approves additional funds, Morse would have to compete with other projects statewide and wait until next year to proceed.

Blandin Broadband Leadership Webinar – Broadband 101 Archive

Thanks to the presenters and attendees for joining the latest Blandin Broadband Leadership Webinar: Broadband 101.  Here we have the description, video archive, slides when available and chat transcript (get handouts discussed in the webinar)…

The third of ten webinars – Broadband 101 – over the next five weeks is April 7 at 9 a.m. CDT.  Join Carl Meyerhoefer of Calix and Tim Johnson of MVTV Wireless as they share their expertise in helping to create and spread a shared broadband vision in their area.

And chat Continue reading

Tiger 4G And AT&T work together to get Franklin Township online

The Delano Herald Journal reports on a story of provider collaboration to get broadband to a community that needed, especially in an era of sheltering in place. The innovation at the most local level is great; partnering with incumbent or upstream providers at the early stage is a key piece in making the network work. …

For many people working from home and students participating in distance learning online, internet service is a necessity.

That necessity was in jeopardy for the 240 people in Franklin Township, Independence, and Greenfield who utilize Tiger 4G Internet.

In fact, it appeared as if service was being terminated all together.

Tiger 4G owner Ken Beamish said a change in terms with AT&T prompted an AT&T employee to start shutting off customers’ accounts.

The owner reached out to social media, which helped make the connections he needed…

“Enough people called (Rep.) Joe McDonald and (US Rep.) Tom Emmer, and they got involved,” Beamish said. “(Delano Public Schools Superintendent) Matt Schoen called Tom and Joe, as well.”

McDonald and Emmer are familiar with AT&T’s lobbyists at the state and federal levels and got them connected with Beamish, who was then able to get a hold of the right people at AT&T to restore service.

Those connections in turn helped the community get better connected..

He came up with a solution.

“I worked out a way with AT&T to offer a wireless program,” Beamish said. “I put a modem and wireless router in your house, just like your cell phone pulls it out of the air and your router broadcasts it.”

That results in speeds of 5 megabytes up to 70 megabytes, depending on proximity to cell towers.

He’s looking forward to keeping that service going for years to come.

NEO becomes GEO and can help with strategic hotspot placements

I just got an update from GEOspatial Engineering & Optimization (GEO, formerly NEO) about how they can help schools and other pick the most strategic placement of hotpots based on surrounding households. I know many schools (and perhaps others) have been racing to use hotpots to get better broadband to those who need it as quickly as possible to help people keep learning and earning and living online during the coronavirus threat. Here’s what they offer…

When we do an RF design study, we have the option to locate optimum places for hotspots and identify the number of households that are covered by them.


This was originally designed around Ruckus equipment, but the Cisco Aironet series will work with this model.  We would recommend 2.5 and 5 ghz channels be set to the 200mw setting and using the 6 db antennas.


The base display shows, based on a cutoff, in this case, of 10 households within wifi range, where we should place the hotspots.  These are the purple dots.

We can see alternative locations for hotspots indicating the # of households and hotspots required to service them.  By placing the mouse over a dot, we see the number of hotspots required in that area, the square miles of that area, and the number of households served.


We then can come up with an optimal installation strategy – minimizing distance traveled between each installation, shown both as waypoints, and as a route map.

Pandemic preparation for a local urban broadband providers: Community Networks with US Internet

Keeping up with broadband these days is becoming 24×7 job these days. I’m catching up a little bit over the weekend – starting with the Community Network’s podcast. This last week, Chris Mitchell spoke to Travis Carter of US Internet (USI) about what it’s like to provide broadband services during a pandemic.

First -their office is primarily working form home using Google Hangouts for meetings and a virtual private network to access local services and provide customer services. There are a few folks who aren’t working because that would break social distancing recommendations – but they are on staff and will remain so as long as possible.

They have seen a change in network traffic. It used to be that Sunday nights were the busiest time and now every day is like Sunday night. They do see an increase but it doesn’t compare with “Game of Thrones” busy. USI is focusing on keeping things running.

So why do some sites seem to run slow? It’s not the local providers. It’s because poplar sites don’t’ have the server power to handle the traffic.

The USI network in Minneapolis (with 2500 access points) is now open for free. There were about 7300 connections (at time of recording). They are running into some issues – but often that’s because people are trying to access wifi from their well-insulated, well-built home. The wifi just doesn’t move well through that barrier.

One funny note – they still have 1200 dialup customers! Not because USI can’t or won’t upgrade; they choose this level of connectivity. USI is working to see what might bring people online to a higher degree. They have tried different price points, adding television and partnering with device distributors, such as PCs for People.

Next Century Cities applauds the FCC’s efforts to increase spectrum available for WiFi

The latest from Next Century Cities…

Today the ​Federal Communications Commission (FCC) circulated draft rules permitting unlicensed devices to operate in the 6 GHz band. The proposal would allow unlicensed devices to share the band with incumbent licensed services, making 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use.
Spectrum is a public resource that fuels wireless connectivity. ​The airwaves are allocated by the FCC to support mobile, satellite, broadcasting, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth networks — among other purposes. Wi-Fi networks, in particular, are essential in areas that do not have access to cable or fiber wireline.
Francella Ochillo, Executive Director, said: “The nationwide coronavirus shut-in has exposed the urgent need to connect every community, especially those in hard to reach areas. Cities, towns, and counties that are still waiting for fixed broadband connections could immediately benefit from wireless solutions that ultimately depend on access to spectrum. We applaud the FCC’s efforts to expand which populations benefit from this underutilized resource.”
Ryan Johnston, Policy Counsel, said: “Chairman Pai’s proposal would help support connectivity nationwide during this national emergency. As more people are asked to work, learn and live from home, this spectrum allocation could decrease congestion on wireless networks and complement wireline connections. It would also provide immediate options for unserved and underserved communities to get online​.​” ###
Next Century Cities ​ is a non-profit membership organization of over 200 communities, founded to support communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. Next Century Cities celebrates broadband successes in communities, demonstrates their value, and helps other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband. For more information, visit ​