Verizon has finally unveiled some of its 5G expansion plans, stating it will have standards-based 5G services in at least 30 markets by year-end. The move highlights robust plans for the carrier, though it could still lag behind rivals that are promising nationwide coverage in 2020.
Verizon executives announced the expansion plans as part of a company-hosted investor conference. Ronan Dunne, executive vice president at Verizon and president of its wireless division, noted that those markets will be “real markets, open for sale.” That statement would seem to be pointed at critics of the carrier’s initial 5G Home service launch that was limited in scale and scope.
Dunne only mentioned the use of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for the expanded 5G offering. However, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg touched on plans to eventually layer in additional spectrum resources using dynamic spectrum allocation technology as it becomes available. This would most likely include mid- and low-band spectrum assets that are critical for expanding coverage.
“The 30 markets give the carrier credibility on its 5G deployment claims,” noted William Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures. “Certainly, they’re lighting up those markets for 5G mobility and 5G Home as the growth engine to start the momentum for 2020.”
Verizon was (sort of) officially first to market in the U.S. with a 5G service when it launched its 5G Home offering last October. However, that service used a proprietary standard and was limited to a few locations in just four markets.
Since that launch, rival AT&T launched a standards-based mobile 5G network. That network is currently available in a dozen markets, but AT&T has announced 9 more markets that will receive service in the coming months. And the carrier has said it plans to have nationwide 5G coverage by mid-2020. Smaller rival T-Mobile US has also said it plans to have nationwide 5G coverage in 2020.
Both rivals have stated plans to use lower-band spectrum holdings in order to reach their nationwide coverage goals.
Kyle Malady, EVP and CTO at Verizon, also noted at the conference that the carrier continues to expand its use of SDN across its network. He admitted that the carrier has been quiet about its use of SDN mostly because it’s been “hard to define what it really means,” adding that for the carrier it has so far mostly amounted to reducing its cost of operations.
Malady said the carrier currently had “hundreds of applications” running in its core that have moved to its Verizon Cloud Platform (VCP). He added that some of those are housed at some location in “the middle” of its network and that some are closer to the edge.
One of those applications in the carrier’s Visible prepaid mobile service. Malady explained that the service is “100 percent virtualized,” and that “there are no boxes we built from vendors.” He added that the virtualized platform allows the carrier to tackle any bugs in the platform in a “day or so.”