“Our 5G Ultra Wideband network is built to support transformational innovations and solutions across all industries,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “There’s no doubt 5G’s increased data bandwidth and super-low lag will help play a critical role in evolving response connectivity and mission operations for first responders. We’ve seen exciting use cases come out of our 5G First Responder Lab and are thrilled to see the new applications that will arise from our work with PNNL.”
This engagement is part of Verizon Business’ broader strategy to partner with customers, startups, universities and large enterprises to explore how 5G can disrupt and transform nearly every industry. Verizon operates five 5G Labs in the U.S. and one in London that specialize in developing uses cases in industries ranging from health care to public safety to entertainment. In addition, Verizon is setting up 5G labs on-premise for several customers as part of an ongoing initiative to partner on 5G-related use cases to help customers transform their industries.
Verizon 5G Labs and Dignitas are also using the 5G network to enhance e-sports. The goals are to improve participants’ performance and recovery and to enable innovative fan/participant interactions. The first e-sports training facility is at Verizon’s 5G lab. It will serve as Dignitas’ west coast headquarters and home to its league of champions.
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.
Note: Copy editing was done to correct grammar errors and delete extraneous words/phrases.
- Our partnership with AWS Amazon on the 5G mobile edge compute, is a totally new way of accessing a market that we have not been into.
- We fulfilled our 5G commitment to deploy in 30 cities. We made 31. We said we’re going to launch 5G Home with the NR standard. We did that, and we said we’re going to launch the first 5G mobile edge compute. We did that in Chicago in December.
- If you think about our priorities for 2020, first of all, continue to grow on the core business. We showed this year we can continue to grow 4G and our core business, and that we’ll continue to do in 2020 as well, including building our network to be the best network in this market. Secondly is leveraging our new assets that we’re building.
- We’re building out fiber. We’re building our 5G and seeing that we can start leveraging that with our customer.
- This year, we’ll continue to have a lot of focus on our 5G build-out and we will come back to that later on how we see the 5G market when we will have an Investor Day later in February.
Verizon claims 5G leadership with 31 mobile cities, 16 NFL stadiums, 4 basketball arenas; launched 5G Edge and NR-based 5G Home
- We’re very excited about the opportunities that Verizon business group has, because that’s why we started building the Verizon Intelligent Edge Network some three, four years ago in order to actually address this market in the best way, and the traction we are seeing with our customers is really good.
- So I think that our technology department have no constraints on what they need to do in 2020. This is what they have plans for in order for us to continue to fortify our 4G network, to continue with strong additions in the 5G as well as continue with our fiber build. And when it comes to the monetization of the fiber build, we’re already starting to do that.
- Many of the fibers right now are going to our cell sites on air because that was a part of it. Then, of course, it has come a little bit later in monetization for our small and medium businesses and enterprise business, etc. But clearly, we’re already now seeing the benefits of doing that. So going into 2020, I think we have a very solid capital allocation for our capex.
- Ronan Dunne (VZ CTO) already said in the beginning of the year that we’re going to have some 20 5G devices coming out in the market this year. So of course, we’re going to see more 5G devices coming out. It’s going to be more build in the markets in 2020 than we had last year. So of course, this is a year that there is going to be even more 5G things coming in. When it comes to any particular phones coming out in the market, we cannot really comment on it because that, we’ll leave to the company to do.
- If this is a market which has a high degree of iOS, that means that when a 5G phone will come out from Apple, that will be important for many consumers to look into what they think is a good change. In our case, I think we’re building a unique 5G experience with our millimeter wave that nobody else is building and have the capability to do. So I think that’s really where the difference will come.
- We already have the best 4G network as you have seen in the latest J.D. Power and RootMetrics. We’re going to continue to have that. So we’re going to give the best experience for customers. And we — and I’m confident that how we are building the network will make a big difference. And that’s why we also feel very confident if — with all these devices coming out, including if the iPhone would come out, that we will have a good chance to actually grab more customers that want to be on our network. When it comes to the spectrum and all of that, I mean, I think that I might have talked about this so many times. We have all the assets to deploy our 5G strategy when it comes to millimeter wave and using dynamic spectrum sharing, be available nationwide when our customers are ready.
- Everything from spectrum to how you densify (wireless) networks and what type of software you put in, and that’s a long-term planning how to do that right. And I think that’s something where you — or people around us go wrong when I look at us because think about how we have been performing, and many actually thought that we would never sustain an unlimited. And the more the network is growing, we’re getting more and more headroom as we’re continuing deploying our software and the engineering capabilities we have in the company.
- We think the C-band (3.7-to-4.2 GHz) is an important spectrum for many reasons. That frequency will be global. So roaming will be done on it, and that’s very important for U.S. market to get into that. And it’s very important for Verizon to get into that. But it’s not hindering our strategy right now to deploy a great 5G network and be able to capture the market for 5G.
- On the CBRS, as you know, we have already started for quite a long time ago to do trials and see how it works, and it works fine. We think it’s a good addition to the portfolio that in order to see that we get good customer expectations. So we think CBRS is an important spectrum, even though it is sort of more share than anything else, but it’s going to be definitely something we’re using as it comes out.
- Secondly, when it comes to the 5G Home, you’re confirming, actually what we have in front of us. The next-generation chipset that goes into the CP for 5G Home will come out. At least, the plan right now is in third quarter, which means that commercial product is probably coming out a little bit later because it takes some time from the chipset to the device. By then, we will have, of course, deployed far more millimeter wave across the country, so we will be able to start launching many more markets when that happens. So that will come back to a little bit more about that when have our Investor Day the 13th of February, talk a little bit more about it. But that’s in the grand scheme, the plans for 5G Home, and that’s no different from what we said half a year ago.
- When it comes to the mix and match, we want to give our (residential) customers options on top of the broadband. If it’s the fiber broadband or if it’s the 5G Home broadband, we want to give them options. Of course, one option is always to have a broadband and having over-the-top services. But another is, of course, giving the mix and match option right now to see that they use the right packages that is more fitted for them. Still, of course, it’s what they can choose whatever channels you have because they come in packages. But the early — or early indication is, of course, that customers that has been on trial for a month, they clearly see what channels they’re using and what package we can suggest for that, that is going to be more optimized. So I think for us, we just think about our customers and where the market is going, and we want to give them the option of actually having different ways they can address the market when it comes to their content consumption. And I think it’s good for our customer experience, but it’s also good for our customers because all of them can do it. So as you said, it’s a little bit early, but I think that our customers are very happy that we’re giving them this option. And I think this is what everyone see where the market is going, meaning more and more over-the-top content is coming in and you want — you need thought, mixing and matching that. And here, we have a great opportunity given our service strategy, and we can work with all the type of option in the content market as we’re not owning any content.
- We always do the trade-off between owning and leasing or sharing fiber with someone, and that is a very prudent or financially disciplined way of looking at our deployment. In many cases, we see it as owning it has really an advantage for us because of the multi-use of our network. Now we’re doing sites all the time. We’re going to create revenue for our business side. So we probably have a couple of years left on doing that. But in general, I feel good about the pace we have right now and the multi-use of the fiber we have. And I think this is one of the most critical assets in a network today — in today’s world, especially as we build Verizon Intelligent Edge Network and you want actually to start delivering the 5G experience that we’re expecting. We need this fiber to be there. So that’s basically where we are with the fiber.
- We have already gotten Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to work from the software point of view. And the majority of our baseband is ready for taking DSS. So what we have said, I’m not going to give you an exact date, but I’m going to tell you, we’re going to be ready when we feel the market is ready and our customers need to have that coverage. And again, remember, we want to have the best network performance-wise. We don’t want to deploy it because it’s called 5G. We want to see that we actually give a superior performance to our customers. And that’s why we think that the millimeter wave, what we’re doing there is extremely important because we talked about 10 to 20x, at least more throughput and speed than we have on the 4G network, and we still have the best 4G network. So I think that’s what we already assessed. When we meet at the Investor Day, we’re going to talk a little bit more about the technology sector.
- When it comes to the 5G and where we are, I think that you saw last year that we had a strong deployment coming in during ’19, but of course, we have even higher ambitions in ’20. And we will also come back and talk a little bit about — more about that. But it goes in all three directions in our multipurpose network. It’s for the mobility case, for the home case, and it’s also for the 5G mobile edge compute case, not forgetting that, because all three of them are using our multipurpose network. And when it comes to use cases, I can do some of them.
- On the mobile edge compute, we see a lot of optimization in factories. We see private 5G networks in order to keep the data and the security and the throughput in a facility, if that’s a campus, whatever, that use case has come up very early on.
- What we can do with millimeter wave in the stadium, how we can use broadcasting cameras with 5G, a lot of new innovation, both with consumer, but also for the distribution of content. With our spectrum positioning, we basically are limited on the uplink when it comes to stadiums, which is the big blocker today in a stadium. So I think you’re going to see quite a lot next four or five days on consumer cases (at the NFL Superbowl in Miami, FL) as well as we will continue to give you more insights to it the next couple of weeks and when we meet in New York here.
- We have told you where 5G will come in, which is more of 2021. So we work with assets we have right now, but we build also a great foundation on 5G going forward for the years after.
2020 Priorities for Verizon: Executing 2020 from a position of strength
1. Strengthen & Grow Core Business
• Extend our network leadership through continued innovation
• Strengthen and grow core business in Consumer, Business & Media
2. Leverage Assets to Drive New Growth
• Scale 5G / MEC / OneFiber & other assets for new growth
• Differentiate brand through trust & innovation
3. Drive Financial Discipline & Strength in Balance Sheet
• Accelerate revenue and earnings growth to drive strong cash flows
• Disciplined capital and operating spend
4. Infuse a PurposeDriven & CustomerCentric Culture
• Put customers at the center of everything we do
• Drive responsible business as part of our strategy
On January 9, 2020, Verizon stated it was eliminating multi-year contracts, multi-service bundles, weird added fees at the bottom of bills, and other nickel and dime cable charges. Instead, Fios will offer Internet at a couple of speeds, priced at $40 to $80 monthly, and a couple of TV packages, priced from $50 to $90. The channel line ups of the TV packages will be more customizable than in the past, as well.
“Customers have been loud and clear about their frustrations with cable, and we’ve listened. As a result, we’re transforming our approach to Internet and TV offers by giving customers more choices and more transparency,” says Frank Boulben, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing and Products at Verizon. “Customers are tired of having to buy a bundle with services they don’t want to get the best rates, and then discover that those rates didn’t include extra fees and surcharges. We’re putting an end to the traditional bundle contract and putting customers in control.”
To replace bundles, Verizon has chosen to give consumers greater flexibility through what it calls Mix & Match. With Mix & Match, Verizon customers can choose between three internet tiers ranging from $40 to $80 per month, and from cable packages offered either through Verizon’s in-house Fios service or through the company’s partnership with YouTube TV. Verizon offers three Internet speed options for FiOS customers – 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps and Gigabit Connection.
NOTE: Triple-play bundles refer to long-term contracts with a company such as Comcast Corp. or Charter Communications Inc. that provide internet, television and landline phone service for one “discounted” rate. These packages force you to have an old-school home phone number, seemingly just for telemarketers to call, and dozens of TV channels you’ll never watch but will nevertheless subsidize. However, many subscribers only want a fast internet connection to binge on Netflix or Amazon Prime and gain access to a handful of their favorite network shows.
Mix & Match builds on Verizon’s strategy to adapt to changing consumer habits; the company has reported a net loss in Fios TV subscribers every quarter since 2016 – coinciding with the rise of subscription-based internet streaming services.
Consumers can change their service selection each month, whereas Verizon had previously offered one- and two-year contracts for discounted introductory bundles. This practice sowed frustration among consumers, as many wanted internet alone but were forced to also buy home television, or because the service price escalated after the introductory contract expired, Verizon SVP Frank Boulben told The Wall Street Journal.
AT&T is emblematic of the limitations of bundling in a sufficiently competitive environment: The company used lots of debt to pay over $150 billion to purchase DirecTV and Time Warner ($67 billion acquisition of satellite television provider DirecTV in 2015 and $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018). The goal was to build up its media assets and combine with its wireline and wireless networks to distribute new content. Unfortunately for AT&T, it hasn’t been able to leverage those combined assets via bundles in a way that drives consumer interest and subscriptions. AT&T executives proclaimed the mergers would bring “a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers.”
Many Wall Street analysts at the time expressed concern that the debt incurred from the company’s mergers would make that goal untenable. And they were right! AT&T’s bottom line has been bleeding from loss of DirecTV customers while they have not yet been able to monetize the content obtained from Time Warner.
As Verizon runs into similar problems in the home, it’s increasing the modularity of its product options and also expanding into segments like VR and cloud gaming. How Verizon fares with this new approach in its home business will be an instructive lesson for the wireless industry as a whole — particularly as mobile operators continue to pursue bundling as a strategy outside the home as well, pairing mobile offerings with media to draw in and retain mobile subscribers.
Here’s what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon said about their 5G network rollouts, soon-to-be available devices, and Smart City plans at CES 2020:
AT&T on 5G Devices, Network Plans:
Carrier and media goliath AT&T talked about 5G devices at this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, NV. Currently, AT&T only sells one 5G-capable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, but AT&T plans to have 15 5G phones available for use on its low-band 5G spectrum during 2020 (see Comment in the box below this article). The Dallas-based service provider said that other mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and hotspots will also be available this year, but no exact number of products were provided.
AT&T’s low-band 5G network went live in December 2019 and is currently available in parts of 19 cities. The carrier’s other 5G network that is built on millimeter-wave and is referred to as 5G Plus is live in parts of 35 cities. AT&T said that it plans to cover 200 million people with its 5G network by this summer.
Sprint IoT, Smart City Updates:
Wireless provider Sprint could merge with T-Mobile any day now, but the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier hasn’t slowed down in the meantime. Sprint took to CES to launch several new offerings and update the market on its IoT plans.
Sprint unveiled its Certainty network design model, which unites its entire business wireline portfolio, including its wireless, IoT, and security solutions. The carrier also launched IoT Factory 2.0, a dedicated platform that solution providers and businesses can use to build custom IoT solutions for small-to-mid sized businesses in the food service, healthcare and agriculture space.
Chris Brydon, Regional Vice President Sales, Sprint Business Northwest Region via LinkedIn:
We believe hashtagIoT has the power to improve people’s lives. Here’s a story illustrating how an IoT application can be so much more than just a cold, lifeless piece of tech. Watch the very human difference it makes in the lives of a man and his family. https://lnkd.in/gdyeT9N hashtagWorksForBusiness
Sprint updated the market on its Smart City initiative on Tuesday. Specifically in Georgia, the provider said that in 2020 “micropositioning” technology, which combines next-generation wireless technologies and small cells will be installed within city infrastructure in areas to enable real-world navigation for autonomous machines, more connected sensors and IoT solution testing in its innovation Center for solutions such as refrigeration and monitoring, and security robots in Peachtree Corners’ Town Hall. Sprint also has plans to integrate additional Smart City technology in Greenville, South Carolina, and Arizona State University.
T-Mobile Talks 5G, Avoids Sprint Mega-Merger Talk:
T-Mobile didn’t address the main topic on everyone’s mind when thinking about the Magenta-colored carrier: its in-progress $26 billion mega-merger with wireless competitor Sprint. Instead, the “Un-Carrier” took to the show to highlight its 5G connectivity.
In a surprising move last month, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider launched its nationwide 5G network using 600 MHz spectrum acquired in the recent incentive auction, as well as two 5G phones capable of using its 600 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile originally planned to launch the network in 2020.
Verizon 5G Devices and Ultra Wideband Availability:
AT&T’s biggest competitor, Verizon, also came to CES armed with 5G updates. Compared to AT&T’s 15 devices, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon vowed to have 20 5G-capable devices in 2020 and said these devices would be competitively priced anywhere between $600-$800. Currently, Verizon has four 5G-capable smartphones. Subscribers interested in 5G will have to pay an additional $10 on top of their current unlimited data plan, Verizon said, but the company didn’t name any specific device manufacturers.
Verizon’s ultra wideband 5G network is available in parts of 30 cities today, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, as well as Hoboken, N.J. Des Moines, Iowa; and Providence, RI. Please see Comment in the box below this article.
Mike Dano of Lightreading wrote that AT&T and Verizon made “vague (uncertain?) promises” for their 5G mmWave networks:
in a New Year-themed post, AT&T’s Scott Mair wrote that “you’re in for an exhilarating ride on the AT&T 5G network in 2020 and beyond,” but he did not offer any specifics about what the carrier will do with its “5G+” network. Then, during a subsequent appearance at an investor event this week, AT&T CFO John Stephens said only that the operator’s 5G network would “continue to improve and grow.”
Similarly, Verizon touted its “vision” for its network in 2020 in a release issued this week, but said only that customers should “expect more great innovations and technology advancements from us in 2020 including a more aggressive build out of our 5G network.” At that same investor event, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne said “we will be continuing to drive hard” in 5G, but didn’t offer any specifics.
The bottom line here is that neither operator is offering any concrete information on the number of cities, cell sites or customers it plans to touch with mmWave 5G in 2020. As Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown writes, it’s time for these operators to show their hands.
From a marketwatch.com article titled: The long-promised ‘Year of 5G’ arrives with more promises and little 5G
For years, telecommunications companies and gadget makers have invaded CES to talk about how big 5G was going to be in 2020.
At CES 2020 though the promise was still unfulfilled as the faster wireless service is still spotty and not entirely what was envisioned.
Without the premier connections that were promised, it is questionable how many consumers will buy the more expensive 5G-enabled devices that were introduced at the giant trade show this year, even though the same glowing predictions of a new future were readily available throughout Las Vegas.
5G promises faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices, all things that could eventually be catalysts for futuristic applications like autonomous driving and connected cities. More immediately, carriers are focused on exposing businesses and customers to those faster data speeds, where and when they can.
Verizon Communications Inc. expects to launch 20 devices with access to 5G by the end of the year, up from the seven that currently exist, according to Tami Erwin, who heads the company’s business group. AT&T Inc. mobility executive Kevin Petersen told MarketWatch at CES that accessibility will also be a key theme in the year ahead.
T-Mobile US claimed that it conducted a nationwide 5G rollout at the end of last year, providing access over a greater area but at slower data speeds than competitors. Verizon and AT&T both plan to add new cities to their coverage later this year, with AT&T still expecting to have nationwide coverage this year also.
Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, cautions that these upgrades won’t happen right away due to some technical aspects of the 5G rollout. The more exciting type of 5G, millimeter-wave spectrum, primarily works outdoors and on campuses where it’s been specifically deployed. Sub-6 5G service works indoors and offers some benefits in speed and latency, but it’s a less dramatic step up from the 4G service consumers have come to know.
“The pieces are coming together but the forward-looking benefits are still a few years off,” O’Donnell said. Part of the issue is that 5G currently runs on top of 4G, rather than in a stand alone manner. Moving to stand alone 5G requires that carriers “refarm” spectrum frequencies from 4G to 5G, but they’re hesitant to make that big leap right away while most customers are still using 4G connections and while few phones support 5G.
“That’s like opening a 10-lane highway only for people with electric cars,” he said, since only a small minority of drivers would have access.
Making 5G a reality is a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario, according to O’Donnell, given that carriers thinking about moving away from 4G want there to be enough devices in the market to take advantage of the new wireless standard, and consumers want to make sure 5G networks are broad enough before investing in a mobile device that works on the network.
The device part of the equation showed signs of progress at CES, with connected PCs being one notable category. Lenovo Group Ltd. announced it will launch in the spring the Yoga 5G two-in-one device, which it says is the first 5G PC. Always-connected PCs let customers rely on cellular connectivity rather than hunt for WiFi networks, and the 5G products shown by Lenovo, HP Inc. HPQ, and others offer faster speeds than 4G ones currently on the market.
Those devices are more expensive than competitive gadgets without access to the technology, though, and that will most likely continue to be the case. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will be holding a smartphone launch in early February, where the company is expected to introduce a family of 5G Galaxy devices, and Apple is thought to be planning a 5G iPhone rollout later this year, with analysts expecting the 5G versions of those popular smartphones to carry a higher price tag.
Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal expects “a large increase” in 5G unit sales for 2020, up from a small base of sales last year, but he thinks most of these sales will come at the expense of 4G devices, rather than a rush of upgrades. He estimates that 5G could boost a phone’s retail price by at least $75.
Today’s devices tend to be in the $1,000-plus range, but consumers should “start to see prices coming down, which ultimately helps the adoption curve,” as more mid-tier devices come to market this year equipped with 5G capabilities. Verizon’s consumer chief executive Ronan Dunne said at a Citi investor conference earlier this week that there could be 5G devices priced below $600 by the end of the year.
AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told investors at the Citi conference that trying to predict 5G unit sales is missing the point a bit, since handset sales are “not a profitable enterprise for a business like ours.” The company sees various new service revenue opportunities from being able to compete “in the geographies where our service has gotten much better.”
The promise of 5G goes well beyond smartphones, and executives pointed out that the services that have developed in the past decade likely wouldn’t have existed without the move to 4G.
“If someone was watching a streaming video on a connection 10 years ago, you would’ve swatted the phone out of their hand and said they were going to use up the whole monthly data plan in 13 seconds,” Qualcomm’s vice president of engineering John Smee told MarketWatch. Now, streaming over wireless is commonplace. Verizon’s Erwin noted that the proliferation of ride hailing also wouldn’t have been possible without the upgrade in data speeds.
AT&T’s Petersen thinks it’s too soon to know what the killer use case for 5G will be, but he’s upbeat about its ability to provide upgraded experiences in gaming, translation and medicine. A reduction in latency, or lag time, could create better responsiveness for gamers and reduce awkward pauses when people are using mobile devices to translate from one language to another in real time. Doctors could more easily monitor patients remotely after procedures by using connected devices.
Over time, the expected benefits of 5G and the growth of accessible smart devices could change the way consumers and workers think about doing data-heavy tasks. Smee even suggested that it could replace the need for Wi-Fi for most users.
“If you think of your cable modem or your DSL and you look at the rates you get compared to the 5G data rate, all of a sudden wireless is the preferred medium and that’s a big game changer versus the idea that you have to have wired connectivity to have high data rates,” he said.
AT&T sketched out its plans to start testing Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB) technology during 2020, saying it can prove a reliable backhaul alternative to fiber in certain cases, such as expanding millimeter-wave locations to reach more isolated areas. Verizon also confirmed, without adding any details, that it plans to use IAB, which is an architecture for the 5G cellular networks in which the same infrastructure and spectral resources will be used for both access and backhaul. IAB will be described in 3GPP Release 16 (see 3GPP section below for more details).
“Fiber is still required in close proximity to serve the capacity coming from the nodes, so if it can be extended to each of the nodes, it will be the first choice,” said Gordon Mansfield, VP of Converged Access and Device Technology at AT&T. in an statement emailed to FierceWireless.
“From there, IAB can be used to extend to hard to reach and temporary locations that are in close proximity. As far as timing, we will do some testing in 2020 but 2021 is when we expect it to be used more widely,” he said.
Verizon also told Fierce that it has plans to incorporate IAB as a tool. It doesn’t have any details to share at this time, but “it’s certainly on the roadmap,” an unknown Verizon representative said.
Earlier this year, Mike Dano of Lightreading reported:
Verizon’s Glenn Wellbrock said he expects to add “Integrated Access Backhaul” technology to the operator’s network-deployment toolkit next year, which would allow Verizon to deploy 5G more easily and cheaply into locations where it can’t get fiber.
“It’s a really powerful tool,” Glenn Wellbrock, director of architecture, design and planning for Verizon’s optical transport network, explained during a keynote presentation here Thursday at Light Reading’s 5G Transport & the Edge event.
Wellbrock said IAB will be part of the 3GPP’s “Release 16” set of 5G specifications, which is expected to be completed by July 2020. However, Wellbrock said it will likely take equipment vendors some time to implement the technology in actual, physical products. That means 2020 would be the earliest that Verizon could begin deploying the technology, he added.
Wellbrock said IAB would allow Verizon to install 5G antennas into locations where routing a fiber cable could be difficult or expensive, such as across a set of train tracks.
However, Wellbrock said that IAB will be but one tool in Verizon’s network-deployment toolbox, and that Verizon will continue to use fiber for the bulk of its backhaul needs. Indeed, he pointed out that Verizon is now deploying roughly 1,400 miles of new fiber lines per month in dozens of cities around the country.
He said Verizon could ultimately use IAB in up to 10-20% of its 5G sites, once the technology is widely available. He said that would represent an increase from Verizon’s current use of wireless backhaul technologies running in the E-band; he said less than 10% of the operator’s sites currently use wireless backhaul. He said IAB is better than current wireless backhaul technologies like those that use the E-band because it won’t require a separate antenna for the backhaul link. As indicated by the “integrated” portion of the “integrated access backhaul” moniker, IAB supports wireless connections both for regular 5G users and for backhaul links using the same antenna.
According to 5G Americas, the larger bandwidths associated with 5G New Radio (NR), such as those found in mmWave spectrum, as well as the native support of massive MIMO and multi-beams, are expected to facilitate and/or optimize the design and performance of IAB.
5G Americas maintains that the primary goals of IAB are to:
- Improve capacity by supporting networks with a higher density of access points in areas with only sparse fiber availability.
- Improve coverage by extending the range of the wireless network, and by providing coverage for isolated coverage gaps. For example, if the user equipment (UE) is behind a building, an access point can provide coverage to that UE with the access point being connected wirelessly to the donor cell.
- Provide indoor coverage, such as with an IAB access point on top of a building that serves users within the building.
5G Americas also said that in practice, IAB is more relevant for mmWave because lower frequency spectrum may be seen as too valuable (and also too slow) to use for backhaul. The backhaul link, where both endpoints of the link are stationary, is especially suitable for the massive beam-forming possible at the higher frequencies.
3GPP Release 16 status of work items related to IAB:
(Note: Study is 100% complete, but others are 0% or 50% complete):
|750047||FS_NR_IAB||… Study onNR_IAB||100%|
|820170||NR_IAB-Core||… Core part: NR_IAB||0%|
|820270||NR_IAB-Performance||850002||–||… CT aspects of NR_IAB||0%|
|830021||FS_NR_IAB_Sec||… Study on Security for NR_IAB||50%|
|850020||–||… Security for NR_IAB||0%|
|850002||–||… CT aspects of NR_IAB||0%|
Verizon reported Q3 net income of $5.3 billion, compared to $5.6 billion in the year-ago period. Total consolidated revenue came in at $32.89 billion versus $32.61 million a year ago.
The company, which is the #1 U.S. wireless telco (in subscribers) reported strong wireless growth in the third quarter. It added 615,000 postpaid (monthly contract) smartphones in Q3; and signed on 444,000 pay-as-you-go prepaid customers. Wireless revenue for the quarter was $23.6 billion.
CEO Hans Vestberg said on the earnings call:
And as you can see in our operation performance, we had a really good quarter when it comes to wireless additions here, one of the best quarter — third quarter we had in several years.
The company has deployed its 5G Ultra Wideband (its 5G mobile service) in 15 markets and is committed to deploy it in 30 markets by year-end.
Verizon has relaunched its fixed wireless “5G Home” fixed wireless broadband service in Chicago, using the 3GPP 5G New Radio release 15 spec, rather than the Verizon proprietary fixed 5G specification used for the initial launch in October 2018. Verizon said that maximum download speeds via 5G Home remains at 1 Gbit/s, with 300 Mbit/s as the promised minimum speed.
“It’s a new business model,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said on Friday’s call. “Now we have it on the global standard , and now we have it on the self-install.”
Note 1. Once again, Vestberg is confused. 3GPP Release 15 (and any other 3GPP spec) is NOT a standard.
Vestberg on the earnings call:
We’re also doing a lot of things in One Fiber, continue to have a very high pace in that. And that One Fiber is so important for our overall Intelligent Edge Network that we are deploying in the company in order to realize the market-purpose network to gain all the efficiencies and serve our customers even better over time. So in short, a lot of progress in the network.
We continue to deploy also 5G Ultra Wideband in stadiums especially now with NFL, 13 stadiums when the season kicks off having 5G coverage. This is important for us because it’s part of the dense urban areas where you have a lot of viewers at the same time when really our 5G is coming to excel. Because of the 5G build that we’re doing with our assets is — we’re making a real big difference here.
We’re going to launch the first 5G mobile edge compute center in the fourth quarter. (Verizon is) engaging much more with large enterprises because with the 5G platform and 8 currencies, we are now a lot of interactions. We announced in this quarter, for example, collaboration with SAP, Corning. All of them are use cases for the 5G mobile edge compute. So we’re excited all that opportunity we’re creating with the 5G mobile edge compute with the largest companies in the market.
CFO Matt Ellis on Verizon FioS and Business/Enterprise segments:
Fios Internet net additions of 30,000 were relatively flat sequentially and down year-over-year. Fios Video results continued to be impacted by the ongoing shift away from linear video offerings with losses of 67,000. Our customers see value in our high-quality broadband offering paired with multiple choices for video through linear TV bundles or over-the-top options, such as YouTube TV and the recently announced Disney+.
Business wireless volumes remain strong with a 12% increase in gross adds for the quarter primarily within small and medium business and public sector. Postpaid net adds were 408,000 compared to 364,000 in the prior year. This includes 205,000 phones, 112,000 tablets and 91,000 other connected devices. Our continued strong customer loyalty across the Business segment led to phone churn of 0.98%, which is relatively flat sequentially and up slightly over the prior year. Total postpaid churn of 1.22% was up 5 basis points compared to the prior year. Total postpaid device activations were up 5.7% while our retail postpaid upgrade rate was 4.5% versus 4.8% in the prior year.
From a customer group perspective, global enterprise revenues declined 2.4%, driven by legacy pricing pressure and technology shifts. Wholesale revenues declined by 13.7% driven by price compression and volume declines, which we expect to continue in a highly competitive marketplace. Small and medium business revenue increased 6.2% driven by wireless service and Fios growth, partially offset by ongoing declines in traditional data and voice services. Public sector and other revenue increased 1.2% as a result of growth in wireless and wireline products and services.
Vestberg, answering a question from Timothy Horan:
Hans, can you give us maybe some more thoughts what you think people are going to do with gigabit speeds instead of megabits? When we rolled out 4G, we had a lot of new innovative kind of applications. Just any thoughts on that as you’re talking to the Fortune 500 companies. And are there ways for you maybe to participate in some of the revenue from some of these new applications with lower — also maybe lower latency? Just any more thoughts what you’re seeing on use cases.
5G Home is a totally new way how we use the technology, which we have never been able to do before because a stand-alone fixed wireless access can never be sustainable financially. In this case, it is.
Then of course when you think about the 8 currencies coming out from 5G, I think that our conversation with the large enterprises today is a lot about the latency and the mobile edge compute. Because suddenly, you can transform your factory with robotics by having a low latency. You don’t need a wired factory, so the future digital factory will have 5G. We see also much bigger 5G private networks, where you get security much higher because it’s going to be your network. You define your network, you have a compute and storage for your enterprise. This is a new way of charging and actually interacting with our customer. And sometimes, there’s going to be a software in between that come from a software company, so we need to work with them as well.
And as I said earlier, I mean this quarter, we’re going to launch our first 5G mobile edge compute center. So we are on the path of doing this, which actually will add more opportunity. Then on the Consumer side, which usually question starts with, which are now end with because I see so many other opportunities, is of course AR/VR. We see now quite a lot of money coming into the ventures side when it comes to 5G innovation. And I think that as we move into 2020, we’re going to see much more. We have our 5G challenge, which we announced at CES where we had a lot of companies participate what they’re going to do with 5G. It ranged from everything what they can do with 5G.
I think we’re at the moment of 4G, but way bigger. When 4G came, I didn’t know what type of application and new service companies would show up. I think this is far bigger that we’re standing in front of right now, and we have much more insights to it as well.
We close with a Verizon assessment from Phillip Leasure:
Verizon has continued to engage in conservative and well thought out initiates compared to the excitement and drama of its competitors. It has not recently engaged in any historic mergers, it has not made any large corporate purchases to try to move into new sectors and it has fended of lower-priced competitors and continued to add subscribers. It has made smaller investments and purchases designed to strategically enhance the future of the business. It is clearly the market dominator in its sector and for the most part, has continued to focus on its core business and engage in competitive deals with other content creation companies to provide services rather than try to buy out content creators to provide services to their customers. So far this has helped them avoid taking on excessive levels of debt and held margins steady. We’ll see if this continues to be a winning strategy going forward for the top dog of telecommunications.
Millimeter wave spectrum “opens up so many possibilities,” said Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady at an investor conference today. Malady made his comments at the Wells Fargo Telecom 5G Forum, which was webcast. “The cloud will go closer and closer and closer,” he said without providing any rationale or support for that statement.
The latest pre-standard 5G technology was designed to support speeds of a gigabit or more, along with lower-latency 9via 3GPP Release 16 not yet completed) and other attributes. However, getting the highest wirelessspeeds requires wide swaths of spectrum that are nearly impossible to come by in frequency bands traditionally used for cellular service. Wide swaths of spectrum are available in high-frequency millimeter wave bands – the downside is that range is not as great as with lower-frequency bands which will require many more small cells in a given geographical area.
5G pioneers AT&T and Verizon used millimeter wave for their initial deployments, but as Sprint and T-Mobile get into the game or make plans to do so, they have touted their ability to quickly cover broad areas by using lower-frequency spectrum, although that didn’t stop T-Mobile from spending more than $842 million to obtain millimeter wave spectrum in the recent auctions. Likewise, AT&T and Verizon have said they expect to deploy 5G in lower-frequency bands as well as in the millimeter wave band.
Verizon 5G Millimeter Wave
Nevertheless, Verizon executives get most fired up when they talk about the millimeter wave band.
Malady offered an interesting data point to support his millimeter wave enthusiasm. Before obtaining millimeter wave spectrum through the acquisition of Straight Path, Verizon had amassed licenses for an average of 160 MHz of spectrum in all bands nationwide. In comparison, the company used four segments, apparently each comprised of 100 MHz, for a total of 400 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum to support its initial mobile 5G launches in Chicago and Minneapolis. And according to Malady, “we’re working on bringing [that] to eight” segments.
Malady didn’t discuss the speeds Verizon is experiencing with mobile service, but he noted that some customers are obtaining gigabit speeds using fixed wireless 5G service in the millimeter wave band, which Verizon has launched in four markets.
Millimeter wave distance limitations are driving a change in network topology, Malady noted. “As the network [becomes] flattened, the antennas [are] smaller and lower,” he explained. “Wireless becomes fiber with antennas hanging off of it.”
As Verizon builds out more fiber to support this model, the fiber also can be used by the company’s other business units, he added.
There may be one additional requirement before 5G can reach its full potential, and Malady discussed that as well. He pointed to the example of police using facial recognition to help find an abducted person by comparing a photo with numerous public cameras, then identifying the closest officer to the abductee’s location. Applications such as that will require processing power located closer to the network edge.
Meanwhile, carriers and analysts say that a lack of mid-band spectrum is delaying the deployment of wireless services. The Federal Communications Commission has recently proposed allowing carriers to share parts of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this range, a plan that a number of educational groups oppose.
Verizon has reportedly shown growing interest in providing service in the 3.5 GHz band via Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) frequencies, even though federal regulators (FCC and NTIA- see below) have yet to allow carriers to launch commercial operations using the mid-band spectrum. The development also points to Verizon’s increased enthusiasm for unlicensed spectrum, which saves money at the risk of frequency crowding.
Verizon first signaled its interest in the 3.5GHz CBRS band during the Mobile World Congress trade show in 2017. Ed Chan — now one of Verizon’s top network executives — said CBRS could power a number of business models including both private and commercial mobile networks. And then last year Verizon issued a press release about its ongoing CBRS testing with Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia and Qualcomm.
Since then Verizon executives have routinely said the operator is interested in using the 3.5GHz for outdoor and indoor small cells. Indeed, just last month the operator embarked on new outdoor and indoor CBRS tests, according to filings with the FCC.
But the fact that Verizon is already deploying CBRS antennas into its network, and is already selling several CBRS-capable phones including the Pixel 3 and the Samsung Galaxy S10, shows that Verizon is keen to put the band to commercial use much more quickly than expected. According to some new Verizon cell tower applications, the largest U.S. wireless network operator is now specifically noting support for the 3.5GHz band:
Verizon and a wide range of other companies are waiting for the FCC and NTIA to give final approval for initial commercial deployments in the CBRS 3.5GHz band. Those approvals are expected in the next few weeks. After monitoring the initial deployments, the FCC is expected to sign off on broad, unlicensed commercial use of the 3.5GHz band in the third quarter. In 2020, the FCC is expected to conduct auctions of 3.5GHz licenses.
Verizon, like most wireless carriers, wants to add more spectrum to its network to keep pace with increasing user traffic. But instead of spending billions of dollars buying spectrum from someone like Dish Network, or buying it at a government auction, Verizon increasingly is using unlicensed spectrum. Such spectrum is free to use but can become crowded.
Verizon first hinted at its unlicensed aspirations in its support for the LTE-U standard roughly five years ago. That standard was designed to allow cellular operators to expand LTE transmissions from licensed spectrum bands and into the 5GHz unlicensed band. Although the similar LAA standard eventually replaced the LTE-U standard, the result is the same: Operators like Verizon can add more capacity to their networks by basically pushing LTE transmissions into unlicensed spectrum bands alongside their existing, licensed spectrum bands. AT&T and T-Mobile are also deploying LAA.
Verizon may employ the same strategy in the 3.5GHz CBRS band. And the reason Verizon is moving so fast to do so is probably to add capacity to its network quickly. As noted by the Wall Street analysts at Wells Fargo, Verizon sits well behind AT&T in terms of overall mid-band spectrum ownership:
Although Verizon owns significant amounts of so-called millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, it owns just slightly more mid-band spectrum than T-Mobile does — although Verizon counts almost twice as many mobile customers.
Thus, Verizon may well be looking for ways to improve its network capacity with unlicensed spectrum like the 3.5GHz band while it waits for the FCC to release more mid-band spectrum like the C Band.
Addendum — 3.5GHz band for 5G in China:
China Telecom was allowed to use the 3.4 GHz to 3.5 GHz frequency range to carry out 5G trials in mainland China. Under the agreement with the Chinese government, China Telecom will return its 2.635 GHz to 2.655 GHz spectrum over the same timeframe.
China Unicom said it has been approved to use the 3.5 GHz to 3.6 GHz frequency band for a nationwide 5G trial rollout until June 2020. The telco said that it will gradually cease to use the frequency in the 2.555 GHz to 2.575 GHz range that it had been using for 5G trials and progressively return it to the MIIT.
Verizon showed off new technology at its Cambridge, MA lab last week, seeking to demonstrate that (pre-standard) “5G” networks are as much about reducing latency as they are about providing blazing speeds. (That’s bizarre because the low latency component of 5G won’t be specified until 3GPP Release 16 and IMT 2020).
The #1 U.S. wireless telco showed out a robot that could potentially rescue people in dangerous situations and explained how 5G will lead to advances in education, medicine and other areas. “With 5G, the robot and the operator can communicate instantly,” said Yan Gu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Verizon paid for a “5G” flyer ad insert in Sunday’s NY Times: Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Brings AR Surgery to Life. It was quite impressive, but very futuristic in this author’s opinion. “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is a new canvas for innovation.” said CHRISTIAN GUIRNALDA, DIRECTOR OF VERIZON’S 5G LABS.
At Columbia University, staff and students use Verizon’s 5G Labs to experiment with remote physical therapy using virtual reality. The technology allows patients and therapists to use a virtual reality headset and controller to manipulate shared objects within a virtual environment. This level of smooth interactivity and responsiveness is possible with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity.
Dr. Choudhry, left, and Dr. Christopher Morley, wearing an AR headset, use Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband to test Medivis.
Current Status of “5G” in U.S.:
In the US, Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s two biggest wireless carriers, have switched on mobile 5G networks in only a small handful of locations. in four cities at the end of May, right about the same time that became the UK’s first 5G provider.
Verizon customers looking to experience “5G” right now will have to head to Chicago or Minneapolis, and then find the right street corners — plus buy one of out there at the moment. By the end of this year, you won’t have to look quite so hard. Verizon plans to double the coverage area in those two cities, and also drop “5G” into 30 additional cities. (In addition, the company has a “5G” home service in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.)
5G use cases and applications -from remote surgery to mixed reality and– are expected to thrive. “They just get better with 5G,” said Christian Guirnalda, director of Verizon’s 5G Labs.
To help drive that point home, Verizon’s demo before a group of journalists showcased a small array of projects experimenting with 5G in health care, manufacturing and public safety, tapping into the company’s Ultra Wideband service. It was a showcase of winners of the company’s 5G Robotics Challenge and other partners working in the Cambridge facility.
The Cambridge lab, set in a colonial-style brick building on a leafy side street nestled next to the Harvard University campus, is one of five that the company’s currently operating. The others are in New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Palo Alto, California.
With a Verizon 5G small cell lurking overhead, software maker Proximie, based in Bedford, Massachusetts, demonstrated its cloud-based, augmented reality-capable telemedicine platform on a high-resolution screen with multiple livestreams — as many as three upload and six download streams running at about 10 to 12 megabits per second each.
A Proximie product manager moved her hand across a blank tabletop in front of a camera, and the screens showed the hand overlaid on a cutaway model of a mock patient’s midsection. It illustrated how a doctor in LA could provide AR input to a surgeon performing an operation in New York without lag or dropped signal. The system could also allow, say, radiology images to be matched up with the view of the patient.
“Once it’s rolled out, it’s gonna change the game,” said Auri Vizgaitis, Proximie’s lead software architect.
“5G lets us get more computing off the device,” said Rahul Chipalkatty, CEO of Boston-based robotics software maker Southie Autonomy.
But even with these industrial applications in mind, there’s still a spot for 5G-enabled smartphones. Pittsburgh-based robotics company RealBotics demonstrated how 5G could help get factory employees up to speed on managing robots, through a combination of smartphone speed, low latency, HD video and augmented reality via edge computing.
The advances these companies are envisioning — highly capable autonomous cars, far-flung surgeons collaborating in real time, the internet of things working in high gear — are the future that 5G’s been dangling in front of us for a while now, and probably will for some time still to come.
“It will exist at some point in the future,” said Palmer. “This lab is about how do you innovate on top of that network.”