Mike Haberman, Verizon’s VP of network support (pictured, right), told Mobile World Live the operator isn’t worried about having enough spectrum to meet capacity needs because densification and other tools provide plenty of runway for the future.

Verizon was criticised in recent months after OpenSignal and Ookla Speedtest results found network speeds dropped following the reintroduction of unlimited plans earlier this year. But Haberman attributed the Ookla dip to a combination of factors, such as the inclusion of results from data-heavy users who passed the operator’s deprioritisation threshold and an increased proportion of results from users in rural areas.

Verizon had legacy unlimited customers on the network before it brought back unlimited for all, Haberman noted, and the operator was thus able to anticipate and engineer for the kinds of usage those plans would add to the network.

“Did it change [network usage]? Yes. Was it a surprise? No. Was it anything that impacted us? No, not really,” he said: “It was pretty seamless from our perspective. The only difference now is a slightly different usage pattern that we’re engineering for.”

Using densification to fill capacity needs
Verizon currently uses around 50 per cent of its spectrum assets for LTE and is now refarming its 850MHz CDMA spectrum. Haberman also noted the operator is just starting deployments of its AWS-3 spectrum, with rollouts expected to kick up a notch in 2018.

Going forward, Haberman said Verizon is going to be in “fine shape capacity-wise” thanks to this spectrum, the operator’s ability to densify the network and contributions from CBRS and unlicensed technologies including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

Haberman declined to say how many small cells Verizon is planning to roll out, but indicated the operator is “really densifying”, particularly with the addition of small cells in metro downtown areas. In terms of planning, Haberman explained the operator will examine both the spectrum assets and demand in a given market and add small cells as necessary to solve offload needs at individual locations.

With a fair bit of spectrum runway and densification on the table, Verizon doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to acquire more airwaves. Haberman explained: “Spectrum is good, but getting closer to the customer is even better because it makes what I already have more efficient.”