Verizon Densifies 4G Network With 5G Goals

UBS Global Media and Communications Conference

Verizon sees 5G as a “complementary” network to 4G, not as a replacement. “You’re going to use a lot of that same fiber infrastructure to deploy 5G,” Verizon Communications EVP/CFO Matt Ellis told attendees Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.

That’s important as the carrier densifies its current 4G network and is mindful of costs as it does so. “A lot of sites we’ve densified for 4G are the same we’ll use for 5G. So when we put that 5G radio in, it will be using an existing infrastructure,” he said.

As Verizon builds out smart city applications, for example, it may be in a building for enterprise customers and paying for third-party access. “If I put fiber down the street to put in small cells, I can also go in that building, use that same fiber network and reduce costs. It’s a change in our network architecture,” and building out a multi-use fiber network. 

Verizon continues to purchase spectrum in the secondary market, where it can be acquired at a “reasonable price,” but is careful where it adds that spectrum to densify its network and add capacity. Other network architecture changes like carrier aggregation and MIMO are employed too, improving throughput, speed and cost efficiencies. “It’s not the same LTE network it was when we launched,” said Ellis.

Addressing Verizon’s recently-announced plans to launch residential 5G in the back-half of next year in three to five markets, Ellis said the carrier has been testing in 11 markets since this spring. Propagation tests have “exceeded” expectations, especially the distance (2,000 feet) it’s seeing at gigabit speeds. “We’ve run real-world tests in different environments and different typographies. We’ve proved you don’t need direct line-of-sight. You can get to at least 20 floors, [in a building] not just five or six.” Outside of its Fios markets, based on test results, Verizon believes possibly 20 million to 30 million homes “are addressable by this residential broadband product.”

December 6, 2017

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