Verizon Looking to Utilize mm-Wave spectrum for Both Mobile and Fixed Purposes

Verizon is in the second year of delivering 5G services in the US using millimeter-wave spectrum. A journey starting with the launch of 5G Home for fixed wireless access (FWA) in 2018 was followed by 5G mobility services in 2019 with both running on Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband network.

The use of the millimeter-wave spectrum for wireless services represents a new opportunity for service providers. The enhancement that 5G connectivity provides changes the game for applications leveraging artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented/virtual reality and/or IoT.

The 5G user experience will not be limited to the millimeter-wave band and coverage. The service has been designed to use both 4G and 5G and will leverage capabilities such as dual connectivity, carrier aggregation and dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS). This approach has the advantage of minimizing the experience of coverage white spots as millimeter-wave 5G is built out in steps.

The build-out of networks using 5G in the millimeter-wave spectrum required the reinvention of both network design and operational models. To develop these new opportunities, a strategy built on five principles was adopted:

  1. Focus on differentiated user experiences, deploying 5G with millimeter-wave spectrum.
  2. Learn about building with millimeter-wave characteristics by experiencing real-life network conditions as early as possible.
  3. Develop use cases together with enterprises in different industries while building out 5G networks.
  4. Combine New Radio capabilities with edge computing.
  5. Deploy fiber infrastructure to 5G sites.

Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband network was built to support innovative use cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband. Today, with social distancing due to COVID-19, the public debate concerns how to stepwise reopen economies and when it will be possible to attend large events. The various alternatives offered by 5G, streaming video and augmented reality could play a part in experiencing sports and music events on the way to the new normal.

The first performance measurements, comparing downstream data rates for 5G and 4G, have emerged. The figure below describes the differences between maximum and median downstream measurements for two Verizon markets where the 5G Ultra-Wideband service is available.

The 5G Ultra-Wideband network roll-out continues and the plan includes increasing the market footprint from 35 to over 60 cities during 2020. The number of small cells is slated to grow by a factor of five times, both through expansion in the initial cities and through the addition of new cities.

The 5G Home service (FWA for the consumer market) is planned to be expanded from 5 to 10 markets. In addition, there are plans to launch 20 new 5G devices in 2020 with smartphones as the biggest device category.

As Verizon continues to expand the footprint of its 5G network, it is also working to locate edge computing capabilities at the selected edge sites. These mobile edge computing (MEC) sites will allow Verizon to substantially reduce the end-to-end latency for enterprise applications that are currently being rendered from a centralized cloud from approximately 100ms to 20ms or less. In addition, enterprises that are leveraging the Verizon deployed MEC sites will benefit from being able to offload compute-intensive applications from their end devices to the local MEC compute element. This will enable locally cached data associated with the application, substantially reducing not only the physical size and power consumption of the end devices, but also reducing the backhaul bandwidth required to transport data to a centralized public cloud.

Verizon’s 5G network was launched for mobile services to both consumers and business customers in the spring of 2019. Initial deployments focused on enhancing 5G mobility at outdoor locations primarily in dense urban areas such as commercial zones, parks and landmarks. Sports and concert venues have been a special focus. To date, the build-out includes parts of 17 stadiums and 7 indoor arenas. As of June 2020, Verizon’s 5G network mobility services are available in parts of 35 markets/cities across the US.

Click here for more on how Verizon is transforming fixed and mobile broadband with 5G.