US operators insisted 5G deployments remain on track, despite hurdles caused by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Representatives for Verizon and T-Mobile US told Mobile World Live network construction continues unabated and targets for 2020 are unchanged. Both also reiterated plans to begin migration to standalone 5G sometime this year.
A US Cellular representative acknowledged the pandemic “is having an impact on some of our operations” but said new 5G site activations in Iowa and Wisconsin remain constant. The representative added the operator expects deployments to continue throughout 2020, with additional markets set to launch later in the year.
Rural operator GCI today (20 April) announced the launch of its first 5G sites in Anchorage, Alaska in partnership with Ericsson. GCI CEO Ron Duncan said in a statement it intends to “upgrade the vast majority of cell sites in Anchorage, Eagle River and Girdwood to our five-band 5G NR solution by the end of the year”.
T-Mobile previously outlined plans to continue expanding its low-band 5G network and rapidly launch mid-band coverage in 2020 using 2.5GHz spectrum recently acquired in its merger with Sprint.
In February, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said the operator would expand mmWave 5G coverage to more than 60 cities and deploy nationwide coverage using low-band spectrum by end-2020.
While installations on utility poles continue, Verizon VP of Technology Heidi Hemmer told PCMag the operator pulled back on rooftop deployments, choosing “not to put our employees inside multi-dwelling units” during the crisis.
Elsewhere, Chinese operators also carried on with 5G work, reportedly accelerating rollout targets in a bid to help revive the country’s economy.