Verizon Shows Benefits of “5G” for First Responders; 5G Fast Facts

Verizon gave first responders a look at 5G networks in action this week.  Firefighters and police saw demonstrations of technology at a Verizon, New York city event.   “You’re able to speed up,” Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a speech to first responders on Monday.

Bratton described a prototype smart street light made by the company, ShotSpotter, that would be able to record everything happening on a street regularly, notify the NYPD of any gunshots, and even illuminate the ground more brightly when cops arrive. The street light would send out gunshot notifications, transmit video, and provide real-time information about the neighborhood. ShotSpotter did not respond to requests for comment.
“That’s not 22nd century technology, but 21st century technology that will be readily available,” he said.

Augmented reality could give firefighters greater visibility and smart lighting on streets could help police more quickly track gunshots, among other potential advances.

Kiana Analytics, tracks the movements of people within an airport by detecting them through their devices and analyzes the patterns for suspicious activity. Kiana works with the Department of Homeland Security to gain access to maps of the airports and other data it needs to run its services. Kiana’s CEO and co-founder Nader Fathi said it currently works on Wi-Fi, and the company is testing it on 5G.
Qwake Technologies, uses augmented reality to outline the environment firefighters are seeing in the dark while they fight fires. Firefighters on the scene wear the thermal cameras and the data gets transmitted back to command.
Mike Ralston, head of strategy and product management at Qwake, said this could help firefighters coordinate when there are multiple fires in different rooms and a team has to split up. “That’s really where the… 5G story comes in,” he said.
For first responders, it means the ability to leave the wires and cables at home and wear a headset on the go, taking more immediate action with live data of criminals, and being able to track locations or see more of a disaster through drones.
“To see augmented reality without being tethered to something, that’s pretty cool,” said Verizon’s director of public sector product development Nick Nilan.
Aerial Applications demonstrated examples of what it would look like to stream video from a field or the cloud to a base on 4G compared to 5G. The 4G footage looked blurry, while 5G was crisp.
“Until 5G rolls out, one of the primary pain points that we’ve been dealing with is the time of getting the data back.” said Nathan Sullivan, chief technology officer at Aerial Applications. “Getting data back from the drone back to our data processing facilities over 4G today in full resolution just isn’t possible. At 5G, we can do that.”
A speedier network will help police officers decipher the massive amounts of data recorded by city cameras. Machine learning will be able to analyze the data at a faster pace.
But massive data collection is controversial, and once 5G takes off, video footage could become clearer and crisper, as the low latency and higher bandwidth makes it possible to transmit higher quality video at faster speeds. Verizon responded in a statement, “Customer privacy is a top priority for our company. We follow very strict privacy guidelines.”
The NYPD said it does not “engage in mass or random collection of facial records from NYPD camera systems, the internet or social media.” Facial recognition images come from crime scenes and are compared to arrest photos from law enforcement records, according to the NYPD. San Francisco went a step further: it banned facial recognition from government use.
“Facial recognition is merely a lead; it is not a positive identification and it is not probable cause to arrest. No one has ever been arrested on the basis of a facial recognition match alone,” Sergeant Jessica McRorie, an NYPD spokesperson, wrote in an email statement.
She noted that the NYPD has arrested a man for throwing urine at subway conductors, and another for pushing a passenger onto the tracks after investigating leads generated by facial recognition. It’s also generally used for tackling homicides, rapes, robberies, and non-criminal activity like driving without a license.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that has voiced concern over the police’s use of facial recognition in the past, said that it’s still concerned. It points out that the NYPD has an app that streams real-time video and police can request to run images through the app for potential matches. It estimates that the NYPD has already used facial recognition in three thousand cases and sometimes employ haphazard methods.
First responders believe 5G could help them save lives faster. As they monitor the U.S. public, civil liberties groups will monitor them on just how they use that technology.
Mobile “5G” is currently limited and is not based on any standard, e.g. ITU-R IMT 2020.  It is livein Chicago and Minneapolis via Verizon, and hotspot 5G has availability in select cities via AT&T, which owns CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia. But that might change soon. Carriers are promising 5G will expand to dozens of cities this year.
“We are deploying very aggressively,” said Ignal Elbaz, AT&T’s senior executive vice president, during a separate UBS 5G summit on Monday.  Elbaz said he believes a network will need to support “a million to billion devices.”

5G Fast Facts:

  • Verizon has launched its mobile 5G network in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, and you can see the first Verizon 5G speed test results. The first compatible phone is the Moto Z3, which isn’t 5G-capable out of the box but can be retrofitted with 5G connectivity with a 5G Moto Mod you can order now.
  • Samsung just released the $1,299 Galaxy S10 5Gflagship on Verizon’s 5G network. The device sports a 6.7-inch display and six camera lenses, including two with depth-sensing time-of-flight sensors for improved augmented reality experiences. We tested the S10 5G on Verizon in Chicago to take advantage of 5G speeds, and while the phone occasionally cleared 1 Gbps, our average downloads were 700 Mbps. However, the phone is markedly faster than an LTE Galaxy S10.
  • LG is releasing a 5G phone of its own, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, and it will debut on Sprint’s network for $1,152 on May 31. Sprint is currently taking preorders, but has not yet announced when its network will go live. Sprint is also selling a $600 5G hub from HTC, which will give LTE devices in your home 5G speeds when in Wi-Fi range of the hub.
  • Sprint has announced a May launch for its 5G network in a handful of cities. AT&T is taking heat took heat for its 5G Evolution logo, which looks a lot like 5G, with speeds closer to 4G. T-Mobile is eyeing the second half of the year for its 5G push.
  • Apple will reportedly wait until 2020 to release a 5G smartphone.  The company participates in ITU-R WP 5D which is standardizing IMT 2020 Radio Interface Technologies (RITs).
  • Qualcomm has said that 20 operators around the world will roll out 5G in 2019, including all major US carriers. Twenty device makers have committed to using Qualcomm’s 5G components in their devices.

6 thoughts on “Verizon Shows Benefits of “5G” for First Responders; 5G Fast Facts

  1. Verizon Communications Inc. VZ recently launched its fifth 5G-enabled device — Inseego Corp.’s MiFi M1000. Markedly, the Inseego MiFi is Verizon’s first business-ready 5G device that combines bandwidth and speed to meet customers’ expectations, with enterprise-grade security for businesses.

    Furthermore, the telecom and media giant launched 5G Ultra Wideband mobility service in Saint Paul, MN. The latest addition joins Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis and Providence (in select locations) as the fifth of more than 30 Verizon 5G mobility cities that the company plans to launch in 2019. (Read more: Verizon Launches Inseego 5G MiFi, Service Reaches St. Paul)

  2. Verizon has started deploying 5G networks using high-band millimeter-wave spectrum but the telecom will vary its strategy depending on the propagation needs of a particular market. “Not all 5G is created equal,” Executive Vice President Ronan Dunne told analysts, adding that high-band spectrum is more useful in Verizon’s initial dense urban markets because of the need for faster speeds and broader capacity.

    “The broader the bandwidth you have…the more of the features and capabilities of 5G that you can enable. We want to have both a coverage strategy and a capability strategy. A very large majority of data that we carry on our network goes to large, dense, urban environments. When it comes to the ability to use 5G as a significant capacity enhancement, there’s more of an opportunity to leverage that in urban areas.”

    “The lower down the spectrum tiers you go, the more that will approximate to a good 4G service,” Dunne said, speaking at Oppenheimer & Co.’s 22nd Annual Technology, Internet and Communications Conference in Boston. “If someone is rushing to bring out 5G nationwide” it could be because they “don’t have a credible 4G service” to start with.

    Speaking last week on a quarterly earnings call, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said dynamic spectrum sharing is “an important piece” of 5G. “Ultimately, 5G is going to be on all bands. And I have a high confidence that my team is going to be doing that well, continue to have the leadership in the market when it comes to network performance. There might also come up opportunities all the time where it could be added spectrum. But right now, to launch both capacity and coverage, we feel confident on the assets we have.”

    Dunne also reflected on Verizon’s reorganization into three business units–consumer, business and media, under the direction of Vestberg. Dunne said the reorganization was meant to reflect the company’s network-centric strategy.

  3. Verizon offered an upbeat assessment of its current and long-term prospects for serving public-safety groups. The telecom’s Mike Maiorana touted US Navy contracts, as well as agreements in Massachusetts and California, during a recent interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications at the APCO 2019 event in Baltimore, MD. “This customer segment has trusted us for decades to deliver to them best-in-class products, services and support people.

    “Now, they’re counting on us to continue to innovate, to elevate ultimately their business outcome of supporting their workforce, so they can better support their communities with solutions and services, which is why we’re so excited about the 5G labs and the demos.”

    Verizon this year completed a company reorganization that placed the carrier’s public-safety broadband business within the new public-sector unit, and the results from the most recent quarter—Verizon’s first reporting under the new structure—were encouraging, according to Maiorana.

    “Our company just announced second-quarter earnings and indicated that our public-sector business was growing,” he said. “Our subscribers are up, our revenues are up, and we continue to earn our customers’ business all across the country—federal, state and local public safety.”

    Maiorana pointed to contracts with the U.S. Navy, a department within the state of California and a recent Massachusetts contract announcement as examples.

    “Most of these contracts are multiple-award, government-wide contracts that are multiple awarded,” Maiorana said. “We then leverage those contracts to defend and grow our business. We do have extremely high market share in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts … I would never commit to all, but it’s pretty close to all. This is a great indication that they want to keep it that way.

    “Why? Our network is better. Our coverage reliability and sustainability is better, and our relationships are better. We’ve been on the ground in every county and municipality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for decades, and that customer trusts us.”

    Verizon continues to bolster its 4G LTE and LTE Advanced connectivity, and the carrier has begun deploying millimeter-wave 5G networks—systems that have been shown to deliver throughput speeds in excess of 1 GB/s—in nine markets, including Washington, D.C., Maiorana said.

    “It’s not just resting on our laurels of having better 4G LTE coverage, but having differentiated, ultrawideband 5G to really elevate the capabilities of the services,” Maiorana said. “And the 4G LTE Advanced, with carrier aggregation and all of the small cells that we’re putting out, that keeps getting better, too. So, it’s not like we’re stopping on 4G, and we’re only going to do 5G. It’s raising the bar for both to ultimately give our customers a better experience.

    “We’re handing out device demos to our government customers, so they can experience 5G on both the smartphone devices, as well as the hotspot devices. We really see 5G elevating different use cases in government. Just think about continuity of operations, for their enterprise network and certainly emergency response, for different applications like telemedicine, surveillance and command and control.”

    Verizon plans to offer millimeter-wave 5G service in 30 markets by the end of the year, Maiorana said.

    In addition to providing connectivity, Verizon is working with industry partners and “a suite of application partners” to develop solutions designed that are designed to serve the public-safety community, Maiorana said, noting the carrier’s partnership with body-camera manufacturer Axon as an example.

  4. One of the benefits of FirstNet cited most by its public-safety customers is that FirstNet deployable units are available to an agency at no additional costs. Maiorana said that “deployables are not new,” noting that Verizon has been using them to support public safety for years.

    “If a government agency wants to control and have in their fleet of assets a deployable, we will sell or lease them one,” Maiorana said. “But the typical model is Verizon provides them to government agencies in times of need, and we don’t charge them anything extra.”

    While other providers recently have focused on serving public safety, Verizon has been serving the first-responder community for decades, according to Maiorana.

    “We believe that AT&T, in particular, using the FirstNet umbrella, is certainly putting significantly more attention on this segment than they ever have in the past,” he said. “This has been an important segment to Verizon for decades.

    “This is a segment that’s always been important to Verizon, and we’ve got a long-standing history of more than three decades of work in this segment. It’s a privilege to serve this customer, because we know how valuable communications capabilities are during a time of crisis, as well as day-to-day operation.”

    Verizon has long believed that working with the first-responder sector has both societal and business value, Maiorana said.

    “There’s a lot of marketing here, a lot of logos, different companies showing up, which is great—we believe competition makes everybody better, elevates what you deliver to the customer, and the market votes, if you will, with their purchase orders and their contract,” Maiorana said. “It’s very clear that Verizon is still considered a major provider and a critical solutions provider to this very important customer.

    “And that raises the bar across the rest of the business. Because, if we’re able to be a great partner to public safety, our other customers in other segments really appreciate it—it’s the right thing to do for our society, and it’s the right thing to do for our community. But also, if you’re able to deliver solutions to this segment, every other segment probably has less-critical requirements.”

    Overall, Maiorana expressed optimism about Verizon’s position in the public-safety market.

    “You’ve got customers buying more Verizon. You’ve got states executing contracts with Verizon. You’ve got third-party, best-in-class partners like Axon certifying with Verizon. You’ve got business results that indicate that the segment continues to grow,” Maiorana said. “Things are really good. We’re very confident.

    “We have acknowledged the increased competition, but we are playing our game—better coverage, better network reliability, features and functionality like priority and preemption on a world-class commercial network. And we’re still advocating for interoperability at the application and push-to-talk layer. The other guys don’t seem to be interested in that. They just seem to be interested in adding subscribers.”

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