Verizon discovered it can provide good mmWave 5G coverage without necessarily having to add new sites to its 4G network, SVP of technology, strategy and planning Ed Chan explained.

Speaking at an investor conference on Thursday (7 December), Chan acknowledged mid-band spectrum would be better for coverage but noted Verizon had been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 28GHz airwaves used in its 5G fixed-wireless trials.

Verizon CFO Matt Ellis previously revealed the tests showed the spectrum can deliver gigabit service at a distance of more than 2,000 feet and vertically up to 20 stories.

Chan placed the distance at up to 2,600 feet and added engineers determined Verizon can provide “very good coverage” by simply overlaying the spectrum on its densified 4G network rather than having to add new sites.

“So we stopped getting brand new sites into the network, but changing our existing sites, the base stations that we have, and then adding 5G to it…so that it actually serves both 4G and 5G.”

However, Chan noted 5G will ultimately require incremental densification in certain areas.

Verizon’s heavy focus on mmWave spectrum is due to a lack of available sub-6GHz spectrum with the bandwidth necessary for 5G, Chan explained. Rather than waiting for regulators to free up more mid-band spectrum, he said Verizon is pushing ahead with mmWave for its initial 5G deployments and will go back and add other lower bands to its network as they become available.

Choosing where to deploy
Chan said Verizon chose cities for its initial 5G fixed-wireless deployment based on factors including density and necessary network design characteristics. He added the operator also considered “which municipalities may be more progressive” in terms of welcoming new technology.

Verizon announced Sacramento, California will be the first of between three and five markets to receive 5G fixed-wireless service in H2 2018.

Earlier this month, Ellis indicated the operator is expecting deployments of fixed-wireless 5G to yield a “significant” impact on the company’s financials within two to three years.