Verizon’s VP of technology development and planning acknowledged mmWave may not ultimately be the best option for the operator’s 5G push as it seeks to extend coverage beyond urban areas.
Bill Stone told the Brooklyn 5G Summit the operator determined a combination of mmWave (very high-band spectrum) and massive MIMO is “the best option we have to push the envelope with 5G” in the US market today, but added it is eyeing additional bands as it considers how to provide nationwide coverage.
Verizon homed in on mmWave spectrum as its best bet for 5G in the short term. While the operator is planning to start with fixed wireless access, Stone said it is “absolutely” going to launch mobile 5G using mmWave assets. Verizon is “looking at all options” to see how far outside urban areas it can push coverage using mmWave, but Stone explained the company may ultimately have to wait for mid-band spectrum with better propagation characteristics.
Those airwaves could hit the US market sooner rather than later.
In a separate summit session, Michael Ha, from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Office of Engineering and Technology, noted the agency currently has efforts underway to open additional 5G spectrum at 2.5GHz and from 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz. He added the FCC also has orders from the US government to free up 100MHz of additional licensed spectrum below 6GHz.
The idea that 5G will require lower bands isn’t new.
T-Mobile US revealed plans to use all spectrum bands for 5G, including its 600MHz and 28GHz airwaves to provide a balance of coverage and capacity. Sprint appears to have eschewed mmWave entirely, opting instead to focus all its energy on deploying 5G using its massive trove of 2.5GHz spectrum.