5G and Beyond

Verizon doubles down on mmWave 5G with new 60-city deployment goal

Verizon said it plans to expand its millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G service to a total of 60 cities during the course of 2020, roughly doubling the number of cities it currently covers with the technology.

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.

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-compatible 5G equipment.

Verizon did not name the cities it will expand 5G Home and mmWave 5G into.

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 via the application of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). That's noteworthy considering that T-Mobile has reported difficulties with at least one vendor in deploying DSS.

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.

Why this matters
Taken together, 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.

That said, 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.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

One of America's most loved telecoms get-togethers, The BIG 5G Event, will be returning to Austin in 2023 to host 1,500+ telecom, cloud and technology professionals — and we want you to be a part of it!

For three days, you can meet and network with leaders from every part of the North American 5G ecosystem and hear from over 150 speakers on the hottest industry topics. To apply for your complimentary pass to the event, visit this link.

Sign In