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Verizon adds more spectrum to its 5G offering

US operator Verizon has increased the amount of C-band spectrum it is using at various sites across the US and as a result is excitedly bigging up the prospect of bigger and better services.

The company, which is caught up in the hype of the US 5G race, said it is deploying 100 MHz of C-band spectrum “in many markets” across the country, an increase from the 60 MHz it has been able to roll out to date.

“This increase from using 60 MHz to 100 MHz of C-band – which we will ultimately have available in many markets across the US – allows us to support more network traffic, deliver even better performance to our customers and add new products and services on top of the mobile and fixed wireless access solutions we provide today,” said Kyle Malady, EVP and President, Global Networks and Technology, at Verizon.

Repeated use of the word ‘many’ by the telco makes it quite difficult to ascertain how many sites are already getting an upgrade and how many will follow in due course, which is presumably why it went for such phrasing. But although we’re lacking hard facts, the upshot is the same: at some point in the not-too-distant future, Verizon will be able to use more spectrum to provide better services.

That’s just as well, given that it paid handsomely for the privilege.

In March Verizon said it ha entered agreements with satellite companies for early access to the C-Band spectrum it won in 2021 that comes with various different release dates. One of those satellite operators, SES, revealed that it had agreed to provide early access to a portion of the C-band at 3.7 GHz-3.8 GHz this year, rather than by end-2023, adding that the move would bring in $170 million from Verizon.

That, and any other extra cash the telco is handing to the satellite firms, comes on top of its now infamous $53 billion spend in the C-band auction itself.

Little wonder then that the operator is keen to crack on with deploying that spectrum, and with cranking up the marketing machine to the max.

A recent trial involving 100 MHz of C-band spectrum, Verizon’s engineers reached peak download speeds of 1.4 Gbps close to active cell sites and 500 Mbps further away, the telco said, again without sharing specifics. Nonetheless, that’s a pretty clear message for consumers: faster mobile services.

“With the start of commercial deployment with 100 MHz of C-band, customers now have access to more spectrum than ever before. And there is still much runway ahead. As more spectrum is cleared in the coming months and years, customers ultimately will have access to between 140-200 MHz of C Band spectrum across the nation,” Verizon declared.

Speaking of runway, Verizon and AT&T are involved in an ongoing spat with the US airline industry over the potential for 5G signals using C-band spectrum to interfere with altimeters. The latest development saw the telcos last month agree to delay rollouts near airports until July 2023, while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is urging the airlines to get on with adding radio frequency filters to altimeters that could be affected.

But while the airline issue proved to be an irritating hurdle in the telcos’ plans for 5G, rollout away from airports is clearly progressing at pace.

As well as providing faster mobile phone services for consumers, Verizon’s spectrum hike will also make fixed broadband services available in more areas. The telco describes itself as “quickly becoming a formidable competitor to traditional home broadband service,” and while that statement is up for debate, there certainly is an opportunity for the mobile operators in the traditional fixed broadband space in the US. Ditto in the business market.

So while there might be a lot of hype around C-band rollout from the likes of Verizon, it’s not entirely misplaced.

 

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