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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mendyk 2/22/2017 | 11:55:40 AM
But ... why? Dan -- What's the point of fixed wireless for Verizon? I would think it's not needed in the areas where it already has FiOS.
DanJones 2/22/2017 | 11:43:08 AM
What do you think here? Mimosa sent me a statement on this, I thought I should share w/ you.

"Whereas 4G was a pure mobile play, it is now evident that 5G will initially be deployed purely for fixed wireless applications. Verizon's 5G fixed customer trials will deliver connectivity in the 28GHz, mmWave frequency bands, however, the viability of these bands should be scrutinised for both mobile and fixed applications.

"Delivering mmWave broadband connectivity in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments, such as suburban and urban areas, is extremely problematic over the last quarter mile. This is because signals can be affected by environmental factors such as foliage and solid constructions, typical in suburban areas, where almost 80% of the US citizens reside.


"Rather than using the challenging, unproven mmWave channels for 5G, the industry should use the sub-6GHz spectrum bands, which have incredible propagation characteristics through foliage and construction materials. New spectrum reuse technologies are emerging which can coordinate transmissions across various unlicensed and licensed spectrum bands, while reducing interference. This new 5G fixed wireless technology is poised for widespread use in high density neighbourhoods."


-          Jaime Fink, Co-Founder & CPO, Mimosa


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