5G: Verizon's New Home Invasion?

Verizon might be planning to make some very different choices when it comes to building next-generation 5G wireless networks, which the operator plans to start field trialing next year. (See Verizon & Partners to Field Test 5G in 2016.)

Light Reading has heard from a couple of industry sources that the operator wants to take a different approach to getting wireless services into the home with fifth generation (5G) technologies. In part, this is to do with some of the new revenue opportunities that 5G will open up in terms of location tracking, audio/video and more. It is also, however, partly because of initial limitations expected with 5G.

5G proper isn't actually defined yet. In fact, the technology is likely to be deployed in two phases: Phase I is intended for 2020 deployement, with Phase II arriving in 2022. (See Is This the 5G You're Looking For?)

One point we can be relatively certain of is that some of the initial 5G deployments are going to be using much higher frequency spectrum with multi-antenna arrays of 64 elements or more.

So-called "centimeter waves" -- otherwise known as super high frequency (SHF) waves -- are expected to be the first 5G frequencies. These waves, so called because they range from one to ten centimeters, sit between 3GHz and 30GHz, with 28GHz emerging as a possible choice for initial 5G service in the US. (See FCC Chair Wants to Take 5G Higher.)

Initial 5G is also shaping as a slimmed down data plane technology with little internal control. So the systems are likely to use LTE-Advanced as the management element. In other words the '5G' bit will be the Autobahn (data plane) and LTE will be the stop, go, speed, slow signs (control plane).

What this all means is that initial 5G service could be really fast -- tens or even hundreds of times faster than today's 4G services -- but lack range and be affected by line of sight issues. 5G could be up at gigabit-per-second speeds over-the-air but the signal won't be reach over tall buildings or trees.

Therefore, early 5G applications could be more like a fixed wireless point-to-point service, with the radios on the edge of the network, within a few kilometers of end user terminals, and backhauled via fiber or dense microwave radio links. Look at the way startups such as Mimosa Networks Inc. are trying to build an alternative to fiber-to-the-home technology to get an idea what early 5G might be like. (See Mimosa's Backhaul Bubbles With Massive MIMO.)

For more on 5G, visit the dedicated 5G section here on Light Reading.

This suggests certain applications for early 5G that Verizon could be working on, such as:

  • 5G as a fixed access network alternative in places where Verizon has either sold its copper access networks and fiber is too expensive to deploy. This is particularly relevant in rural areas.
  • Broadcast TV to the home, building on what they learn with LTE-Broadcast.
  • Super-fast connectivity in the home. This seems the least likely, since the in-home devices have to be super-cheap to make it viable and early 5G technology won't be cheap.

Verizon itself isn't going into details just yet. Light Reading asked David Small, EVP of wireless operations at Verizon Wireless, about 5G recently. He reiterated that tests are going ahead in 2016 and said the operator will have more news to share in the future. (See Verizon: Cloudy With a Chance of Radios!)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
DanJones 11/9/2015 | 5:41:28 PM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? Yeah, I'm not saying Verizon won't use Samsung, just saying we haven't seen any sign of that yet.
TV Monitor 11/7/2015 | 12:57:26 AM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? mhui0

Does that mean Qualcomm's modems will be ready for use, or Samsung's modem development is leaps and bounds ahead of Qualcomm's and so Samsung's modem chips will dominate the first roll out?

Qualcomm is not really active in 5G area, instead focusing on LTE-U and IoT connection technology like LTE V2X(For cars) and NB-LTE.

Beside, the secret sauce of Samsung's 28 Ghz technology that enables it to work at a highway cruising speed over 2 km radius while Ericsson and Nokia's technology work over a short distance of 200 m at a walking speed is antenna. Basically, Samsung's base station antenna works similar to a military AESA radar and tracks the user handset to the accuracy of an inch, then blast the handset with a highly focused mmWave beams to reach the distance previously thought to be impossible. No other vendor has developed a similar technology yet.
TV Monitor 11/7/2015 | 12:46:08 AM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? Dan Jones

28 Ghz is Samsung's system, no other vendor is able to supply equipment operating in this frequency.


Verizon gains 5G insights from operators in Japan, Korea
November 4, 2015

Verizon told analysts during its analyst day that the company has met with operators in Japan and South Korea to discuss network technologies, Evercore ISI analyst Jonathan Schildkraut wrote in a research note this week.
TV Monitor 11/7/2015 | 12:41:59 AM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? There aren't going to be one 5G standard, but at least three.

1. 28 Ghz standard for the US and Korea

2. 3.5 Ghz standard for China, Softbank Japan and Sprint US(A Softbank subsidiary)

3. 15 Ghz standard for Europe 
mhui0 11/6/2015 | 6:20:02 PM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? Does that mean Qualcomm's modems will be ready for use, or Samsung's modem development is leaps and bounds ahead of Qualcomm's and so Samsung's modem chips will dominate the first roll out?
DanJones 11/6/2015 | 2:14:59 PM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? Yeah

At present we don't know if Verizon is even considering the Samsung system, they seem to be leaning on their traditional suppliers.
mhhf1ve 11/6/2015 | 1:48:36 PM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? Perhaps I'm too optimistic that there's still time for 5G to be re-defined since it's not yet solidified as a true standard.

TV Monitor 11/5/2015 | 10:57:08 PM
Re: how about symmetric upload/download? mhhf1ve

The 28 Ghz 5G standard as being proposed by Samsung and ETRI is highly centralized and is a direct replacement of the LTE network.

Home IoT network is an entirely separate thing and will likely be served by LTE-M or something similar. 
mhhf1ve 11/5/2015 | 8:52:24 PM
how about symmetric upload/download? Okay, symmetric upload/download is probably unnecessary, but about about a little bit more upload speed? 

And will the 5G networks be a bit more decentralized? I'm thinking that maybe more LTE femtocell towers in homes (see T-mobile) might make more wireless mesh networking a bit more viable?
DanJones 11/5/2015 | 3:46:19 PM
5G to the home The in-home stuff does interesting soon enough though, there's enough capacity and low latency in 5G in theory that you could have a multi-streaming home system over the network.
Sign In