Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April

Verizon said Wednesday that it will start work on fixed 5G customer tests with partner Samsung in several markets in April.

This makes it likely that Verizon will be the first operator in the US -- or the world, in fact -- to offer friendly customers a taste of 5G. The operator has said that the fixed service will deliver speeds of more than 1 Gbit/s over the air, making it more cost-effective than fiber. (See Verizon Cleared for Take-Off on Fixed 5G.)

Samsung tells Light Reading that the tests are purely focused on fixed wireless at the moment. The tests will take place in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, D.C., with a fifth location in Michigan starting trials later in the second quarter. The various locations will help to test varying terrain, neighborhood layouts and population density.

For all the latest news on 5G, visit the 5G site here on Light Reading.

Verizon will use its own 5G radio specification for the test. Equipment from Samsung will include a customer premises (CPE) unit with an adjustable 28GHz antenna, network infrastructure and a core network.

In pre-commercial testing, which began in December 2016, Samsung said the "system demonstrated multi-gigabit throughputs at radio distances of up to 1,500 feet (500 meters) across each of the different environments selected for the customer trials."

That's just over a third of a mile. In theory, this means that Verizon could put up a 5G small cell about every two and a half blocks in Manhattan to provide fixed coverage. We don't know yet how many users on the network will be supported, but the customer trials will presumably help the operator learn more.

Being first to 5G -- albeit the fixed variety -- should help Verizon get some of its technical mojo back. It was first with 4G LTE but has subsequently faced tough rivalry in that field.

AT&T may not be far behind in 5G, however. It has said that it will have a fixed 5G trial for DirecTV customers in the first half of the year, although Verizon's announcement appears wider in scope and ambition.

The tests could be very significant for Samsung's network business, too. If the tests translate into commercial service it could mean a large multi-year contract with America's largest wireless provider.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones 2/22/2017 | 2:22:32 PM
Re: But ... why? I believe VOIP is part of the tests.
mendyk 2/22/2017 | 2:13:30 PM
Re: But ... why? I wonder what the economics are regarding fixed "5G" as a copper substitute for a service (landline phones) that's well down the road to the "remember when" file.
DanJones 2/22/2017 | 2:08:21 PM
Re: But ... why? It also potentially helps VRZ switch off more copper. Don't forget they tried to do this in 3G & 4G, but the performance wasn't there.
TV Monitor 2/22/2017 | 2:03:05 PM
Re: But ... why? mendyk

"So that means the focus on "fixed wireless" is a smokescreen of sorts."

That's the terms of LMDS spectrum license.

Doesn't mean Samsung 5G can't do mobile, it was tested on a van driven at 95 mph on a race track in Japan, and the first demo devices for Samsung 5G are a phamplet size phone from Samsung and a tablet from Qualcomm.
mendyk 2/22/2017 | 1:51:48 PM
Re: But ... why? It's hard to imagine that *mobility* won't be the ultimate focus for 5G. From that perspective, it's hard to see fixed trials as being all that important, except for marketing purposes.
mendyk 2/22/2017 | 1:48:12 PM
Re: But ... why? So that means the focus on "fixed wireless" is a smokescreen of sorts.
TV Monitor 2/22/2017 | 1:27:28 PM
Re: But ... why? mendyk

"What's the point of fixed wireless for Verizon"

Samsung mmwave 5G basestations support mobile 5G connections. Samsung 5G set to go live in September of this year does only mobile in Korea, there is no fixed mmwave 5G in Korea.

Once Verizon gets approval for mobile coverage from FCC, mobiles will be added.
DanJones 2/22/2017 | 12:38:39 PM
Re: But ... why? Well it's one of the 5G use cases!


Realistically, I think the rise of the smartphone and apps defined the 4G era. We don't know what -- probably new thing -- will come to define 5G yet.

Nonetheless, VRZ has been wanting to create an alter-fiber service for a long time, since 4G. Don't forget it can reuse all of the fixed infrastructure (basically small cells) when mobile 5G comes availble. It's a re-usable investment.
mendyk 2/22/2017 | 12:28:27 PM
Re: But ... why? So that makes this an incremental improvement that has more to do with potential cost saving than anything else. And it's not clear how this is "5G" at all. Is this yet another case of marketing distorting reality? Yes, that's a loaded question.
DanJones 2/22/2017 | 12:23:40 PM
Re: But ... why? My take is that the XO buy gave it more fiber in more cities and 28GHz licenses. It wants to see if it can use 5G to deliver a fiber-like service for less cost than FiOS.
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