• The real reason COVID-19 appears in 5G-enabled cities
  • Why hundreds of millions of people will upgrade to a 5G phone this year
  • “Contact tracing” is here whether we like it or not…

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our weekly mailbag edition of The Bleeding Edge. All week, you submitted your questions about the biggest trends in technology. Today, I’ll do my best to answer them.

If you have a question you’d like answered next week, be sure you submit it right here.

But before we get to the questions, the results came in yesterday from New York State’s serological testing – the testing performed to determine how many people have had COVID-19 and recovered.

As I expected, they were astonishing… and cause for great optimism.

At a statewide level, the testing found that 13.9% of 3,000 people tested across the state have already had COVID-19. And for New York City, the percentage was even higher… 21.2%.

That’s right. More than one in five people in NYC are estimated to have already had and recovered from COVID-19.

If we were to test every single person in the state, the real number of those who had or have COVID-19 would be even higher.

Why? Because those with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 are staying at home. They are not being tested. And that category makes up more than 99% of those who have COVID-19.

But for now, let’s just run with the 13.9% number. That percentage implies that 2.7 million people in New York have already had COVID-19.

Incredibly, even CNBC got it wrong.

While accurately reporting that “the preliminary results indicate that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19,” the network then claimed that the state’s mortality rates are at 7.4% – 19,453 fatalities divided by 263,754 confirmed cases.

I say “incredibly” because we now know the estimated number of people who have contracted COVID-19 in New York State – 2,700,000 plus the 263,754 cases (= 2,963,754 cases of COVID-19).

This results in a mortality rate of 0.6564%. That’s a long way from 7.4%.

And we can see what happens again when we remove the 3,778 deaths that New York City added to its COVID-19 death tally (19,453 − 3,778 = 15,675). As a reminder, not even one of those decedents were tested for COVID-19.

The mortality rate drops to 0.528%. Again – wow.

I couldn’t find a single mainstream media outlet reporting on this mortality rate even though it is fantastic news. COVID-19 has already spread widely, which is consistent with its basic reproductive rate being higher than the seasonal flu.

And study after study is demonstrating that the case fatality rates are very low.

Wishing a great weekend to all.

And now let’s get to today’s insights…

No, 5G does not cause COVID-19…

Let’s start with a question about COVID-19 and why it’s impacting dense urban areas more severely…

If 5G is safe, why does the COVID-19 virus have a high impact in the same area where there is a good 5G rollout? Check out the location of 5G, and you will see what I mean. A great legacy for our children!

Anthony C.

Hi, Anthony. Thanks for writing in.

You seem to be suggesting that 5G is somehow causing the spread of COVID-19. After all, COVID-19 is impacting dense urban areas – like New York City – more severely than other parts of the country.

These are the same urban areas where many of the 5G deployments are happening. Therefore, 5G must somehow be responsible for COVID-19.

I’ve heard this argument before. But there is no truth to it.

My longtime readers will need no reminding, but 5G is the next generation of wireless technology infrastructure. And as my recent “boots on the ground” research in Washington, D.C., demonstrates, 5G is more than 100 times faster than 4G. Watch that speed test right here.

The 5G rollout is happening as we speak. And wireless network providers like AT&T, Verizon, and the recently merged T-Mobile/Sprint are prioritizing dense city centers first. And the reason for that is very simple.

Globally, network operators are expected to spend $480 billion building out 5G networks between 2018 and the end of this year.

Wireless network providers are focused on building out the most populous markets first and then deploying 5G to less populated areas. The more rural, the longer it will take.

It’s basic business economics. Building out the largest revenue-generating markets first allows businesses to use that cash flow to fund the build-out in the rest of the markets.

And the reason why COVID-19 has impacted these same urban areas is also very simple: population density.

After all, COVID-19 is an airborne virus. It spreads through interactions between humans. The more humans nearby, the more effectively COVID-19 spreads.

What differentiates COVID-19 from seasonal influenza is not the mortality rate but the R0 (R naught). COVID-19’s R0 is likely around three or even higher, which means that it spreads more quickly than the seasonal flu.

This means that more densely populated areas are going to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Manhattan has a population density of more than 71,000 people per square mile.

Compare that to a much smaller city like Anchorage, Alaska. Its population density is roughly 171 people per square mile.

That’s why the State of New York has more than 253,000 confirmed cases. Alaska has only 335.

Anthony, you may be familiar with the phrase “correlation does not mean causality.” That’s the situation we have here. Thanks for the question.

Will 4G phones be nonfunctioning in a 5G age?

Let’s address a 5G question from a reader…

Jeff, I have a question. Am I correct in understanding that when 5G phones come out, none of the 4G ones will work?

I have been reading, and many places said that 4G and 5G will be working together and our Apple iPhones will not be nonfunctional. In other words, we won’t have to run out and buy a new 5G phone. And we won’t need to rely on the new semiconductors.

– Andrea L.

Hi, Andrea. Thanks for writing in with your question.

And your research is correct. 4G and 5G networks are already operating at the same time. They are simply functioning on different parts of the radio frequency spectrum, so they don’t interfere with one another.

To be clear, 4G-enabled phones will always work on 4G networks, just as 3G-enabled phones still work on 3G networks.

However, 3G and 4G phones will never function over 5G wireless networks – they will never have the functionality of 5G-enabled phones.

So don’t worry, Andrea. Your 4G phone will still be operational over 4G networks even when 5G networks are deployed widely. And 5G-enabled phones will also be able to run over 4G wireless networks when there is no 5G coverage.

So consumers won’t be required to buy a 5G-enabled smartphone if they don’t want to.

But for those who live in parts of the world where 5G wireless networks are deployed, it is going to be hard to resist the upgrade.

My longtime readers will instantly recognize this chart. It’s the Ericson Mobility Report that is published every quarter. It shows us the amount of mobile network traffic worldwide. The most recent data is from Q4 2019.

As we can see, the average monthly mobile network traffic is now 40 exabytes per month. Remember, an exabyte is equivalent to 100,000 times all the printed material in the Library of Congress.

And 40 exabytes are flowing across the world’s wireless networks every month. This figure has more than doubled since Q1 2018.

Our current 4G networks simply weren’t designed to handle this much data efficiently. That’s why we frequently have trouble with dropped calls, slow loading web pages, or text messages that never seem to send. These are almost always caused by network congestion.

And because of COVID-19, wireless network traffic is only going higher.

As we’ve been discussing, the demand for network bandwidth has been spiking in recent weeks as people rely on streaming services, videoconferencing, and cloud-based applications for work and play.

I’ll be very interested to see the network traffic numbers for Q1 and Q2 of 2020 when they come out.

And this is why the world needs 5G. 5G speeds are what will allow us to efficiently transmit this much data. And the applications built on 5G networks will be truly special.

That’s why I predict smartphone users will upgrade to 5G smartphones in droves. More than one billion 5G-enabled smartphones will likely be purchased over the next 24 months.

And that’s why I’ve been helping my readers position themselves with key 5G investments. The returns we will see from 5G investments will be some of the best this decade.

For readers interested in learning how to invest alongside 5G, learn more right here.

What we need to know about “contact tracing”…

For our last question, let’s tackle the topic of “contact tracing.”

With regard to Apple and Google cell phone tracking… Is someone going to give us a list of phones that do not track us? And will these phones have 5G?

– Barbara S.

Hi, Barbara. I believe what you’re referring to is something called “contact tracing.”

For readers who missed it, contact tracing is designed to alert consumers if they have encountered a person who has COVID-19.

Through this app, our phones will share information with other phones automatically using Bluetooth. Our phones will connect us to other people’s phones. It will happen automatically; we won’t even know it is happening.

Health authorities like the CDC will manage this communication system. Google and Apple will roll out their respective contact tracing apps as early as next month.

But that’s just the start. Both Google and Apple plan to install this contact tracing software directly into the operating systems for iPhones and Android smartphones. That should happen sometime this year.

More than likely, the details for this contact tracing software will be buried in a lengthy legal statement that we must agree to if we want to use the smartphone operating system.

They will say contact tracing is on an “opt-in” basis. But the truth is that we won’t have much choice in the matter.

And unfortunately, Barbara, there are few options for us to avoid this.

Roughly 27% of smartphone users worldwide use Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, and 72% use Google’s Android operating system.

In other words, virtually every single smartphone user on the planet – all 3.2 billion of them – will be drawn into this system whether they like it or not.

But to answer your question specifically… Consumers who don’t want to have contact tracing software on their phones will have to purchase a phone that does not have Android OS (operating system) or Apple iOS running on it.

In other words, it can’t be a smartphone. A consumer would likely have to buy the simplest phone with only the ability to make phone calls and send text messages.

That would be a major sacrifice and inconvenience for most people, but at least it is an option.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

P.S. Before I go, I wanted to tell readers about a special training event hosted by my friend and colleague Jeff Clark.

My longtime readers might know that I was once a very active trader. And when I was trading, I would always rely on Jeff Clark as a resource to inform my trading. He’s a master of his craft.

I don’t have time to do any trading these days. But for readers who are interested in more active trading, I’d recommend you listen to what Jeff Clark has to say about profiting from these volatile markets. Go right here.

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