Verizon named Ericsson and Samsung as initial vendors providing equipment for construction of its C-Band network, pressing ahead with its plans despite the initial spectrum not due to be cleared until the end of the year.

The US operator, which committed almost $53 billion to the C-Band spectrum including the purchase price and clearing costs, said it has begun deployments of radios, antennas and baseband equipment made by Ericsson and Samsung.

Verizon previously detailed a goal of covering 100 million customers in 46 markets with a 5G service using the spectrum within a year: CTO Kyle Malady explained appointing Ericsson and Samsung advanced a goal to have “everything in place” by the time the spectrum is cleared.

Ericsson is providing its Antenna-Integrated Radio unit with Massive MIMO capabilities. By integrating the radio and the antenna into a single enclosure, Ericsson’s equipment is meant to save precious space on towers.

Samsung’s contribution comprises its Massive MIMO radios with beamforming and its virtualised RAN (vRAN) technology, which enables carriers to run baseband functions in software.

Verizon said since it has already deployed vRAN with Samsung, the new C-Band radios can be commissioned relatively quickly via software.

Crown Castle and SBA Communications are the two tower partners Verizon announced so far. The carrier said both will “provide for process improvements including standardising and reducing forms and minimising legal reviews”.

Verizon secured an average of 161MHz of C-Band spectrum nationwide during a recent auction: it explained its contiguous spectrum bands should streamline deployment across the US.

The Federal Communications Commission’s C-Band auction was pivotal for Verizon, which was previously viewed as the operator with the weakest spectrum position vis-a-vis 5G. The mid-band spectrum acquired puts Verizon on a much more even footing with rivals AT&T and T-Mobile US, which secured a trove of mid-band spectrum through its merger with Sprint.