Verizon plans to double the number of cities covered by its mmWave based 5G wireless network by the end of the year. The company also said it will expand its mmWave 5G coverage areas in the 31 cities where it already offers the service, according to a Fortune article citing comments from Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
CEO Vestberg also said that Verizon would expand its 5G Home fixed wireless Internet service to a total of ten cities during 2020, up from the five it currently covers. That’s noteworthy considering Verizon recently overhauled the offering to include a do-it-yourself installation component coupled with new, 3GPP-Release 15 5G NR compatible network equipment.”Verizon did not name the additional cities it will expand 5G Home and mmWave 5G services.“We have the opportunity to continue our journey to be the leader on 5G,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said at a meeting with investors in New York on Thursday. “We’re not only expanding markets, we’re also expanding coverage in all the markets.”Verizon’s announcements essentially counter worries that the company is shrinking from the daunting task of deploying commercial mobile services in mmWave spectrum bands. Due to the physics governing transmissions in such bands, signals in mmWave spectrum can only travel a few thousand feet at the most, and often cannot travel through obstacles like buildings, trees and glass.
As a result, Verizon and other operators building mmWave networks have been forced to construct more “small cell” transmission sites – Verizon said it expects to build five times more small cell sites in 2020 than it did last year, according to the Fortune article. However, Verizon did not provide a specific number for its small cell ambitions.Importantly, Verizon’s Vestberg said the operator’s 5G actions are designed in part to encourage customers to upgrade to one of the company’s 5G service plans. Verizon currently charges an extra $10 per month for 5G access on its cheapest unlimited plan, and has promised to impose that fee on its more expensive unlimited plans sometime in the future.But Verizon’s 5G efforts aren’t exclusive to its mmWave spectrum. Vestberg reiterated Verizon’s promise to expand 5G to other spectrum bands sometime this year. The U.S. #1 wireless carrier plans to use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) which will let it share lower frequencies for use with 4G and 5G endpoint devices at the same time from one cell site. That would let it cover far more territory, though with slower download speeds.[Note that T-Mobile has reported difficulties with at least one vendor in deploying DSS.]
Rivals have said the gear isn’t ready yet, but Vestberg pushed back on Thursday. “This year we will launch nationwide 5G based on dynamic spectrum sharing,” he said. “We’re going to launch that when we think it’s commercially right, when we see enough handsets out in the market.”
In other Verizon news, the company said it plans to expand its edge computing agreement with Amazon AWS, first announced late last year. The companies hope to operate a total of 11 edge computing sites by the end of 2020, up from one site when the pact was first announced.
Verizon’s announcements today reflect continued momentum by the operator in the realm of 5G. Unlike its rival AT&T, which is in the midst of building out a streaming video operation via its acquisition of Time Warner, Verizon has bet much of its corporate future on 5G. Thus, given the operator’s size and scope, it can be viewed as a bit of a 5G bellwether.
It’s difficult to gauge the details of Verizon’s 5G progress considering the company does not disclose important metrics like the number of 5G handsets it has sold, the number of 5G customers it counts, the number of 5G transmission sites it operates and the specific revenues it expects to derive from 5G.