Verizon: Fully Virtualized 5G Core to Launch in 1 to 2 Years

Verizon currently uses a 4G LTE IMS core from Nokia for its 5G offerings. But in the next 1 to 2 years, the operator has said it will shift to a standalone, fully virtualized 5G core for its 5G services.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

April 25, 2019

4 Min Read
Verizon: Fully Virtualized 5G Core to Launch in 1 to 2 Years

Verizon is planning to launch a fully virtualized 5G network core in the next one to two years, a move that the operator said will shift its 5G NR deployment from a "non standalone" design to the "standalone" design.

"With the next-generation 5G core network, we expect that to be fully virtualized from day one," said Verizon's Bill Stone in comments during the Brooklyn 5G Summit event in New York. He said that move would allow Verizon to implement 5G technologies, including network slicing.

In separate comments to Light Reading, Verizon's Mike Haberman explained that the operator is working to launch a "standalone" 5G core in the next one to two years. "5G will have its own core; it will be a new design," he explained.

Haberman said that Verizon's initial mobile 5G markets rely on the operator's existing 4G IMS core network. That's because, like most operators, Verizon initially launched a "non standalone" 5G network design in order to quickly launch commercial services. The "non standalone" design uses an existing 4G network to handle tasks including authentication and handoffs, while the actual radio access network (RAN) makes use of the faster 5G NR specification.

Haberman said that Verizon hopes a standalone 5G core will become available for the carrier to launch in one to two years. Verizon, like most other US wireless network operators, relies on the likes of Ericsson and Nokia for its equipment. Verizon in 2009 announced that Nokia would supply its 4G LTE IMS core. Neither Stone nor Haberman disclosed the vendor for Verizon's 5G core.

Stone discussed Verizon's 5G core network plans as part of a broader presentation on Verizon's shift from 4G to 5G. And he cautioned that the operator is still in the early stage of that transition. "These are the very beginnings. It's going to evolve and continue to improve," he said.

"Stone addressed criticism of Verizon's initial mobile 5G launch markets. He said similar concerns were raised during Verizon's shift from 2G to 3G, and from 3G to 4G. "At each point, when we were going through a transition, there was always a great deal of skepticism," he said.

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Further, Stone cautioned against unduly raising expectations for 5G. "The potential to overhype and underdeliver on the 5G promise is a temptation that the whole industry must resist," he said.

However, earlier in his presentation, Stone proclaimed that "5G is a dramatic leap forward."

Stone and other Verizon executives this week also offered a few noteworthy tidbits related to Verizon's 5G rollout efforts:

  • The operator announced that it will sell the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G on May 16 for $1,300. Stone said that gadget will join the Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod as Verizon's second 5G-capable device, and he said Verizon in the future will also sell the 5G Jetpack hotspot from Inseego and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G smartphone. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said this week that the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 10 will also support the operator's 5G network.

  • Verizon is currently deploying network equipment that supports its 39GHz spectrum in addition to its 28GHz spectrum, Stone said. Verizon's initial 5G Home launches last year, and its two mobile 5G market launches this year, support only the operator's 28GHz spectrum.

  • Verizon named the next 20 markets where it will launch mobile 5G services this year: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Washington DC. The operator has promised to launch mobile 5G in a total of 30 markets this year: It has already launched the service in Chicago and Minneapolis.

  • As noted by VentureBeat, Verizon is no longer selling 5G services on its cheapest unlimited plan. So Verizon is still offering 5G for its $95-per-month Above Unlimited and $85-per-month Beyond Unlimited plans, but not on its $75-per-month Go Unlimited plan. All prices include Verizon's Auto Pay. Verizon also said that, for a "limited time," it would remove the $10-per-month 5G service charge it was applying previously.

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

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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