Bill Stone, VP of technology development and planning at Verizon (pictured), revealed the operator has begun installing standards-based 5G equipment ahead of an expected launch of mobile service in early 2019.

Stone told Mobile World Live Verizon is “receiving 5G NR radios and hanging them as we speak,” from vendors Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung. “We’ve got a way to go before we’re ready to launch and before devices are ready to launch, but the product is available.”

The executive kept quiet on where the equipment is being installed, but said the new radios use the operator’s fibre assets in the chosen markets. He also noted the 5G radio architecture follows a pattern similar to the operator’s densified 4G LTE network.

Stone’s comments come just after the operator announced the completion of a 5G data transmission using a Moto Z3 smartphone with a clip-on attachment, as it pushes toward its mobile 5G debut.

Operator executives said in October standards-based fixed and mobile 5G deployments would begin as soon as kit became available.

Ready to roll on 3.5GHz
More radio installations could soon be on the way, as Stone also said Verizon is ready to proceed with deployments in the shared 3.5GHz band as soon as vendors receive final certification from the Federal Communications Commission.

He said the operator could have infrastructure in place as soon as the end of this year, but noted compatible devices likely won’t be available until the first half of 2019. The latter marks a change from the operator’s previous expectation that 3.5GHz-capable devices would begin entering its lineup by the end of 2018.

Initial deployments in the band will be for LTE, Stone said. Trials using a combination of Verizon’s licensed spectrum with four 20MHz channels of 3.5GHz spectrum yielded peak data rates of around 1Gb/s, he added.

Stone noted Verizon is also considering using the band for 5G, though “it’s too early to say whether we’ll definitely use it”. However, he said the operator is working with vendors to ensure it can add 5G capabilties to its 3.5GHz radios via a software upgrade, should it decide to go that route.

Verizon is not currently planning to use the band for fixed wireless access applications, he said.