Verizon Talks 5G, Virtualization and XO Acquisition at Mobile World Congress
Two Verizon executives offered more insights this week into the telecom’s plans to introduce fixed-broadband 5G service in 2018, as well as its strategies for virtualization. According to Sanyogita Shamsunder, Verizon’s Director of Network Infrastructure Planning, the 5G trials are about more than just testing fixed 5G in real world situations – they’re more about data gathering. That data, she said, will not only allow Verizon to determine what works and what doesn’t in fixed wireless, but it will also apply to mobile use cases as well.
“This is really the first proving ground on how millimeter wave with beamforming and all that works in various environments,” she said. “Like with anything else 5G is a technology that will serve multiple use cases, like IoT and broadband. And if you think about it, fixed wireless is enhanced broadband. Whether it’s mobile or fixed, a lot of our customers today use a phone sitting down in their home in their offices. So, it’ll slide right into a broader use case of mobility.”
“With software defined networking and NFV we can channel the resources of the network,” Shamsunder said. “We are on the path to virtualization with a lot of our core network, and even today with our 4G network. That provides a lot of flexibility for us. We have several parts of our network which are already virtualized and then as we go to 5G, virtualized network is the only way we want to be deploying 5G, including parts of the radio network. We’re talking about things like (virtualized RAN) and (extensible RAN) and we’re working with 3GPP and all the standards bodies to have the flexibility to build a software-based RAN as well as core.”
“We have several parts of our network which are already virtualized and then as we go to 5G, virtualized network is the only way we want to be deploying 5G,” Ms. Shamsunder added.
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Verizon’s fixed 5G plans include offering fixed wireless broadband service outside the company’s traditional local service footprint, said Matt Ellis, Verizon chief financial officer and executive vice president today. Ellis made his comments in a question and answer session at an investor conference, where he outlined the Verizon 5G roadmap.
Verizon 5G Roadmap
Verizon currently has 5G fixed wireless technology testing underway in “eleven geographies” and “different environments” including urban and suburban settings, Ellis said.
The company expects to have results from those tests in “a few months” and to be “in a position to launch [service] in 2018,” according to Ellis. That launch would use spectrum in the 28 GHz band, which Verizon gained use of through its purchase of XO Communications.
That purchase could give Verizon an edge, as the FCC has yet to establish a date for a planned auction of high-frequency spectrum suitable for 5G.
Verizon anticipates layering mobile service onto the fixed 5G infrastructure around 2020, Ellis said. Densification, which takes the form of small cell deployments, “adds significant capacity and pre-provisions the network for 5G,” Ellis said. He also noted that Verizon was instrumental in organizing industry groups that helped accelerate the standards process for 5G.
This year’s Verizon capex budget will be spent on boosting 4G coverage, density and capacity and on fiber, with “a bit of spending” on 5G, the CFO noted.
Verizon’s CFO Matt Ellis
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Verizon CFO Ellis Shares Verizon 5G Roadmap, Including Nationwide Fixed 5G Plans