Talking to Light Reading after his keynote at the annual Brooklyn 5G event from New York University, Adam Koeppe, VP of Technology Planning for Verizon, gave us an update on the field trials and where the operator is hoping to take the technology.
Verizon has seen data rates of "a gigabit a second or higher" in its field trials, Koeppe says. Verizon is now testing 5G in eight or nine locations around the US, he says. (See Verizon Will Pilot 5G Fixed Wireless in 2017.)
It is testing initial equipment at 15GHz, 28GHz, 39GHz and 64GHz, using infrastructure from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Samsung Corp. "Most of it is focused on 28GHz," Koeppe says. (See Verizon & Partners to Field Test 5G in 2016.)
These are fixed wireless tests at the moment because that's what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's rulings currently allow the frequencies to be used for. Koeppe, however, describes the operator as "very excited" at the speed at which the FCC is moving to open up these centimeter and milimeter wave bands for 5G. (See Sohn: Wheeler's FCC Not Slowing Down .)
One of the technical issues that Verizon and its technology partners is facing is shrinking down the equipment for 5G, Koeppe said earlier in his keynote. This -- along with the spectrum Verizon wants to use being currently allocated for fixed wireless -- is what is driving Verizon to look to immobile applications in the first wave of 5G.
It's likely that some of the early use cases will be fixed wireless and mobile hotspots," Koeppe says. (See Verizon Will Pilot 5G Fixed Wireless in 2017.)
With a gigabit or more on the downlink that could enable Verizon to expand what it does with 5G broadband considerably. "That opens up a lot of possibilities," Koeppe says.
Verizon currently has a 4G LTE broadband service that used to be called "Home Fusion" and is now called something even more boring. Verizon typically offers it as a broadband alternative for rural users who can't get cable to their homes. (See Verizon Takes LTE to Rural Homes.)
Even if the FCC doesn't manage to follow through its promises to open up 28GHz and other spectrum for mobile 5G usage, the band is presently allocated for limited-range fixed wireless applications. Verizon could potentially start using leased 28GHz spectrum from XO Communications, which it bought for $1.8 billion in February, and it has the option of buying 28GHz licenses from NextLink by 2018. It could potentially launch a fixed wireless service using the spectrum. (See Verizon Takes LTE to Rural Homes and Verizon Bags XO for $1.8B.)
"We'd like to get to a point in 2017 where we have some type of friendly consumer trial or beta," Koeppe says.
It's been a little bit of an open secret in the industry that Verizon was considering fixed broadband applications for 5G. Light Reading first reported in November 2015 that the operator was looking at some very different use cases for early 5G. (See 5G: Verizon's New Home Invasion?)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading