The Podcast: Russia, T-Mobile US and nothing

Iain was knackered after a half marathon when we recorded this pod as was Pierre’s audio mixer, which gave up an hour or so into the recording. Nonetheless the lads manage to open with another look at the Russia/Ukraine conflict as it affects the telecoms business, before moving on to discuss the latest update from T-Mobile US. The final segment would have been called Nothing, appropriately, but you’ll never know what we said.


  1. Avatar Satellite Guy 01/04/2022 @ 11:50 am

    Satellite guy here. Enjoy the show mainly for the banter and – of course – for some wider telecoms news. Keep up the good work, gentlemen.

    I have heard the 5G vs 4G throughput in a “pound for pound” comparison raised a couple of times on your show. Here’s how I understand it. Let’s take an example of a single mobile phone located at 1 km distance from a base station using the same frequency band, same antenna, channel size, power level and overall configuration. Assuming that the base station and phone can support both 5G and 4G waveforms, then under these conditions there shouldn’t be much of a difference between 4G vs 5G in the throughput that can be achieved for that one single device.

    This is because there is a limit to the throughput that can be achieved over a given channel and this is called the Shannon’s law. The coding and modulation schemes have gotten so efficient that they were almost at this limit already for 4G, so 5G will not be able to improve on this hugely. Shannon’s law defines the throughput as dependent on the available bandwidth (the size of the pipe) and the strength of the signal in reference to noise received by the device.

    However, this does not mean that 5G offers no gains over 4G in terms of throughput for the air interface. The improvements in 5G are achieved partially thanks to playing with the components of the Shannon’s law, but also by other methods that allow for more efficient spectrum usage over a specific base station (as opposed to a single user).:

    – More spectrum available and bigger channels = bigger pipe to squeeze more data through;
    – Support for smaller cells and new technologies in higher bands (mmW in particular). In mmW the device will be very close to the base station (<200 m), so there will be more signal in comparison to noise and higher throughput can be achieved. Downside is you need a more dense network deployment;
    – Support for MIMO antennas: allows to receive the same signal over several paths, which increases final combined signal strength = more throughput. This is further enhanced by Massive-MIMO in mmW, where you can create several beams (think of flashlight beams) vs one big beam (light-bulb). Small beams = stronger signal in a specific direction = more throughput. In addition, creating several small beams that are separated from each other also allows spectrum to be re-used more efficiently over the same cell.

    5G – on the air interface side – is mainly about brining in support for some new frequencies, channel sizes and antenna technologies. These are not gains, however, that can be achieved cheaply for manufacturers or operators. More spectrum/larger channels = more money to government, more small-cells = more sites need to be deployed, Mimo/M-mimo = complexity in antenna design and algorithms to move these beams around particularly in a busy urban environment.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 04/04/2022 @ 10:08 am

      Very helpful, thanks.

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