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What We Can Learn From US Telecom Market

07 Dec 2016 - LTE,PON,China Mobile
China's telecom market made huge progress since 1980's, but compare the US telecom market, what are the difference between these two markets, and what we can learn from it. With these questions, we interviewed with Dr. Chong Zhou, VP of Solutions, the executive director of presales department, ZTE USA Inc.

Reporter: Dr. Zhou, you worked at UMTS/LTE product of ZTE R&D center for more than 8 years, and then transferred to ZTE USA to support marketing activities at US for more than 6 years. So it looks you really in this industry for quite a while, both of China and US, could you share with us your understanding of US telecom market?

Dr. Zhou:

Sure, that is my pleasure.

Telecom service, especially the high speed internet service, has been becoming one of the most demand features of a city, or even a country.

In order to attract the big company and investment, there are lots of US cities passed the law to support building municipal fiber network. Even FCC supports that effort, and Preempts Laws Restricting CommunityBroadband in the states. So this is really interesting, because that is the city capital or local government becomes the investor, not the private capital. The reason behind that is the private capital is going after the high margin business model, not for the benefit of local community. [1]

According to the Internet Access Services Status report by FCC, June 2015, there are about 99.7 million fixed internet connections, and 242 million mobile internet connections. [2]

Among those fixed connections, there are 57.85 million Cable connections, 28.27 million DSL connections, and 9.768 million fiber connections.

And according to FCC's Fixed Measuring Broadband America Report 2015, the distribution of fixed and mobile connections by Downstream Speed listed as below:

And we also can find out that the high speed service are mainly provided by Fiber and Cable DOCSIS 3.0 technology, at a rate from 50Mbps to 150Mbps; and the low speed service, typically 3~40Mbps, is provided by DSL service. [3]

There are around 91.06 million US houses have the fixed connections, and 35.4 million US houses still don't have  it, account for 28% of the total number of houses. That is because the green field deployment of FTTX and Cable are limited by below facts:

1) The high cost and long process of land and site acquisition.

2) The long process of regulation and zoning process.

3) The high cost of engineering and implementation.

FCC invested billions of USD every year to fund the operators and try to solve this issue, but the progress is slow and the result is not that promising.

As listed in Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market, FCC 2016, the number of mobile wireless connections grew by approximately five percent during 2015 to reach approximately 374 million by year-end 2015. 60% of these connections are post paid, 20% pre paid, and 20% wholesale and M2M. The average ARPU is around 44.65 USD. [4]

Technology wise, in 2009, Verizon commercial launch LTE technology, which continued to sustain their lead in the America mobile network market, and it keep upgrading its network, such as 3 carrier aggregation is available now at some markets. T-Mobile USA commercial launched 4*4 MIMO technology October this year.

But coverage wise, US is not even close to a whole coverage, there are only 80.7% of the country areas and 97% of the road have at least one operator. The hotels and business buildings are suffering because of the weak wireless signal, including top metro cities such as New York and Las Vegas. The direct reason is simple: there is not enough number of base stations. The largest operator Verizon owns around 100 thousand base stations only, which is really a small number compare to China Mobile's 1.5 million base stations. And the root cause of that is the site acquisition cost is prohibitive high, especially new towers cost around 250~450 thousand USD, more sites for rural area, longer time for return of the investment. The other reason is US operators spend billions to get the spectrum license which make their business model tougher.

Reporter: Thanks Dr. Zhou, so what is the trend of US telecom market?


At regulation side, FCC is encouraging the deployment of the broadband internet to have better internet service than the rest of the world, such as:

● The FCC redefined the minimum requirements of broadband internet, from 4mbps to 25mbps for download, and 1mbps to 3mbps for upload. [5]

● As global wide, US is the first country announced 5G spectrum, including 28GHz, 37GHz-39GHz and 64-71GHz. [6]

● FCC released CBRS spectrum and support big companies, including Google, etc to promote the shared access of the spectrum. In order to lower the spectrum cost, and promote the wireless broadband.[7]

At operator side, The US operators are enthusiastic to test and deploy new technologies, to lower the per bit cost, and promote the data usage. Examples as:

● Verizon leading the mobile operators to test LTE-U and 5G, Verizon is even plan to deploy these two technologies at 2017, who announced the technical specifications of both technologies already. [8][9]

● Verizon leading the FTTX operators to test and trial NGPON2 technology, which support 40~100Gbps, and is different compare to the 10G PON technology we are doing trial right now in China. [10]

● COMCAST leading the cable operator to test and commercial launch DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which could achieve downstream 10Gbps and upstream 1Gbps. [11]

Reporter: And what we can learn from US telecom market?


We should take advantage of our free spectrum mechanism, open more spectrum to the operators as soon as possible, as much as possible, to enhance the mobile network capacity and end user experience, lower the fee; so we would be able to foster the development of the mobile network.

We could take advantage of the cost effective solutions provided by China telecom vendors, such as ZTE etc, and take advantage of our much lower engineering cost, to upgrade the current mobile network, deploy the FTTX to everywhere, upgrade the bearer network. And take advantage of new technologies such as Pre5G/5G, xGPON, 100G OTN etc to develop our telecom infrastructure faster.

If we look at the support given by Sweden to Ericsson [12], Finland to Nokia [13], Korean to Samsung [14] [15], US to ADTRA and CALIX [16], these vendors' new solution are all deployed in their own country first, and try their best to be the first in the industry to commercial launch that. And if we look at our world biggest telecom market, if we could take advantage of that, to support the testing and commercial launch of those new technologies which would definitely help China's telecom vendors to explore more opportunities worldwide.



[1] FCC Preempts Laws Restricting Community Broadband in NC/TN. FCC

[2] Internet Access Services: Status as of June 30, 2015. FCC

[3] 2015 Fixed Measuring Broadband America Report. FCC

[4] 19th Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market, wireless. FCC








[12] World's first commercial 4G/LTE site unveiled in Sweden by Ericsson and TeliaSonera,


[14] KT teams up with Samsung, Nokia for 5G services

[15] SK Telecom Completes Field Trial for its 5G System


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