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Millimeter wave spectrum “opens up so many possibilities,” said Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady at an investor conference today. Malady made his comments at the Wells Fargo Telecom 5G Forum, which was webcast. “The cloud will go closer and closer and closer,” he said without providing any rationale or support for that statement.
The latest pre-standard 5G technology was designed to support speeds of a gigabit or more, along with lower-latency 9via 3GPP Release 16 not yet completed) and other attributes. However, getting the highest wirelessspeeds requires wide swaths of spectrum that are nearly impossible to come by in frequency bands traditionally used for cellular service. Wide swaths of spectrum are available in high-frequency millimeter wave bands – the downside is that range is not as great as with lower-frequency bands which will require many more small cells in a given geographical area.
5G pioneers AT&T and Verizon used millimeter wave for their initial deployments, but as Sprint and T-Mobile get into the game or make plans to do so, they have touted their ability to quickly cover broad areas by using lower-frequency spectrum, although that didn’t stop T-Mobile from spending more than $842 million to obtain millimeter wave spectrum in the recent auctions. Likewise, AT&T and Verizon have said they expect to deploy 5G in lower-frequency bands as well as in the millimeter wave band.
Verizon 5G Millimeter Wave Nevertheless, Verizon executives get most fired up when they talk about the millimeter wave band.
Malady offered an interesting data point to support his millimeter wave enthusiasm. Before obtaining millimeter wave spectrum through the acquisition of Straight Path, Verizon had amassed licenses for an average of 160 MHz of spectrum in all bands nationwide. In comparison, the company used four segments, apparently each comprised of 100 MHz, for a total of 400 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum to support its initial mobile 5G launches in Chicago and Minneapolis. And according to Malady, “we’re working on bringing [that] to eight” segments.
Malady didn’t discuss the speeds Verizon is experiencing with mobile service, but he noted that some customers are obtaining gigabit speeds using fixed wireless 5G service in the millimeter wave band, which Verizon has launched in four markets.
AT&T has said it has seen speeds of 1.2 Gbps in mobile 5G trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters. More on AT&T’s mmWave spectrum holdings here.
Millimeter wave distance limitations are driving a change in network topology, Malady noted. “As the network [becomes] flattened, the antennas [are] smaller and lower,” he explained. “Wireless becomes fiber with antennas hanging off of it.”
As Verizon builds out more fiber to support this model, the fiber also can be used by the company’s other business units, he added.
There may be one additional requirement before 5G can reach its full potential, and Malady discussed that as well. He pointed to the example of police using facial recognition to help find an abducted person by comparing a photo with numerous public cameras, then identifying the closest officer to the abductee’s location. Applications such as that will require processing power located closer to the network edge.
Meanwhile, carriers and analysts say that a lack of mid-band spectrum is delaying the deployment of wireless services. The Federal Communications Commission has recently proposed allowing carriers to share parts of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this range, a plan that a number of educational groups oppose.
Verizon has reportedly shown growing interest in providing service in the 3.5 GHz band via Citizens Band Radio Service (CBRS) frequencies, even though federal regulators (FCC and NTIA- see below) have yet to allow carriers to launch commercial operations using the mid-band spectrum. The development also points to Verizon’s increased enthusiasm for unlicensed spectrum, which saves money at the risk of frequency crowding.
Verizon first signaled its interest in the 3.5GHz CBRS band during the Mobile World Congress trade show in 2017. Ed Chan — now one of Verizon’s top network executives — said CBRS could power a number of business models including both private and commercial mobile networks. And then last year Verizon issued a press release about its ongoing CBRS testing with Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia and Qualcomm.
Since then Verizon executives haveroutinely said the operator is interested in using the 3.5GHz for outdoor and indoor small cells. Indeed, just last month the operator embarked on new outdoor and indoor CBRS tests, according to filings with the FCC.
But the fact that Verizon is already deploying CBRS antennas into its network, and is already selling several CBRS-capable phones including the Pixel 3 and the Samsung Galaxy S10, shows that Verizon is keen to put the band to commercial use much more quickly than expected. According to some new Verizon cell tower applications, the largest U.S. wireless network operator is now specifically noting support for the 3.5GHz band:
Verizon and a wide range of other companies are waiting for the FCC and NTIA to give final approval for initial commercial deployments in the CBRS 3.5GHz band. Those approvals are expected in the next few weeks. After monitoring the initial deployments, the FCC is expected to sign off on broad, unlicensed commercial use of the 3.5GHz band in the third quarter. In 2020, the FCC is expected to conduct auctions of 3.5GHz licenses.
Verizon, like most wireless carriers, wants to add more spectrum to its network to keep pace with increasing user traffic. But instead of spending billions of dollars buying spectrum from someone like Dish Network, or buying it at a government auction, Verizon increasingly is using unlicensed spectrum. Such spectrum is free to use but can become crowded.
Verizon first hinted at its unlicensed aspirations in its support for the LTE-U standard roughly five years ago. That standard was designed to allow cellular operators to expand LTE transmissions from licensed spectrum bands and into the 5GHz unlicensed band. Although the similar LAA standard eventually replaced the LTE-U standard, the result is the same: Operators like Verizon can add more capacity to their networks by basically pushing LTE transmissions into unlicensed spectrum bands alongside their existing, licensed spectrum bands. AT&T and T-Mobile are also deploying LAA.
Verizon may employ the same strategy in the 3.5GHz CBRS band. And the reason Verizon is moving so fast to do so is probably to add capacity to its network quickly. As noted by the Wall Street analysts at Wells Fargo, Verizon sits well behind AT&T in terms of overall mid-band spectrum ownership:
Verizon’s Spectrum Holdings
Verizon doesn’t own as much mid-band spectrum as some of its competitors.
Although Verizon owns significant amounts of so-called millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum, it owns just slightly more mid-band spectrum than T-Mobile does — although Verizon counts almost twice as many mobile customers.
Thus, Verizon may well be looking for ways to improve its network capacity with unlicensed spectrum like the 3.5GHz band while it waits for the FCC to release more mid-band spectrum like the C Band.
China Telecom was allowed to use the 3.4 GHz to 3.5 GHz frequency range to carry out 5G trials in mainland China. Under the agreement with the Chinese government, China Telecom will return its 2.635 GHz to 2.655 GHz spectrum over the same timeframe.
China Unicom said it has been approved to use the 3.5 GHz to 3.6 GHz frequency band for a nationwide 5G trial rollout until June 2020. The telco said that it will gradually cease to use the frequency in the 2.555 GHz to 2.575 GHz range that it had been using for 5G trials and progressively return it to the MIIT.
Verizon showed off new technology at its Cambridge, MA lab last week, seeking to demonstrate that (pre-standard) “5G” networks are as much about reducing latency as they are about providing blazing speeds. (That’s bizarre because the low latency component of 5G won’t be specified until 3GPP Release 16 and IMT 2020).
The #1 U.S. wireless telco showed out a robot that could potentially rescue people in dangerous situations and explained how 5G will lead to advances in education, medicine and other areas. “With 5G, the robot and the operator can communicate instantly,” said Yan Gu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Verizon paid for a “5G” flyer ad insert in Sunday’s NY Times: Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Brings AR Surgery to Life. It was quite impressive, but very futuristic in this author’s opinion. “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is a new canvas for innovation.” said CHRISTIAN GUIRNALDA, DIRECTOR OF VERIZON’S 5G LABS.
At Columbia University, staff and students use Verizon’s 5G Labs to experiment with remote physical therapy using virtual reality. The technology allows patients and therapists to use a virtual reality headset and controller to manipulate shared objects within a virtual environment. This level of smooth interactivity and responsiveness is possible with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity.
Dr. Choudhry, left, and Dr. Christopher Morley, wearing an AR headset, use Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband to test Medivis.
Verizon customers looking to experience “5G” right now will have to head to Chicago or Minneapolis, and then find the right street corners — plus buy one of the very few 5G-capable phones out there at the moment. By the end of this year, you won’t have to look quite so hard. Verizon plans to double the coverage area in those two cities, and also drop “5G” into 30 additional cities. (In addition, the company has a “5G” home service in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.)
5G use cases and applications -from remote surgery to mixed reality and autonomous cars – are expected to thrive. “They just get better with 5G,” said Christian Guirnalda, director of Verizon’s 5G Labs.
To help drive that point home, Verizon’s demo before a group of journalists showcased a small array of projects experimenting with 5G in health care, manufacturing and public safety, tapping into the company’s Ultra Wideband service. It was a showcase of winners of the company’s 5G Robotics Challenge and other partners working in the Cambridge facility.
The Cambridge lab, set in a colonial-style brick building on a leafy side street nestled next to the Harvard University campus, is one of five that the company’s currently operating. The others are in New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Palo Alto, California.
A product manager at Proximie shows how 5G helps bring AR capabilities to telemedicine.Jon Skillings/CNET
With a Verizon 5G small cell lurking overhead, software maker Proximie, based in Bedford, Massachusetts, demonstrated its cloud-based, augmented reality-capable telemedicine platform on a high-resolution screen with multiple livestreams — as many as three upload and six download streams running at about 10 to 12 megabits per second each.
A Proximie product manager moved her hand across a blank tabletop in front of a camera, and the screens showed the hand overlaid on a cutaway model of a mock patient’s midsection. It illustrated how a doctor in LA could provide AR input to a surgeon performing an operation in New York without lag or dropped signal. The system could also allow, say, radiology images to be matched up with the view of the patient.
“Once it’s rolled out, it’s gonna change the game,” said Auri Vizgaitis, Proximie’s lead software architect.
“5G lets us get more computing off the device,” said Rahul Chipalkatty, CEO of Boston-based robotics software maker Southie Autonomy.
But even with these industrial applications in mind, there’s still a spot for 5G-enabled smartphones. Pittsburgh-based robotics company RealBotics demonstrated how 5G could help get factory employees up to speed on managing robots, through a combination of smartphone speed, low latency, HD video and augmented reality via edge computing.
The advances these companies are envisioning — highly capable autonomous cars, far-flung surgeons collaborating in real time, the internet of things working in high gear — are the future that 5G’s been dangling in front of us for a while now, and probably will for some time still to come.
“It will exist at some point in the future,” said Palmer. “This lab is about how do you innovate on top of that network.”
Verizon announced yesterday that its NB-IoT network is now available coast-to-coast covering more than 92% of the U.S. population. NB-IoT focuses on applications needing data rates below 100K bits/sec which makes it ideal for solutions that aren’t designed to be always mobile such as alarm panels, environmental sensors, industrial appliances, factory equipment and parking meters.
NB-IoT is specifically designed for IoT applications that could benefit from access to lower cost chipsets, superior coverage and significantly prolonged battery life. The NB-IoT Network provides the ability to manage both IP and non-IP data traffic. This ability to handle non-IP data traffic allows for the creation of much simpler and more cost-effective IoT devices which are ideal for solutions that aren’t designed to be always mobile such as alarm panels, environmental sensors, industrial appliances, factory equipment and parking meters.
Other viable use cases for NB-IoT include:
Smart cities – improve citizen experience and municipal operations through parking sensors, waste management and smart lighting.
Smart buildings – enhance building safety and incident response times through connected smoke detectors including regular auto-test, battery check and real-time alerts to the relevant parties in case of fire.
Industrial – improved machinery maintenance cycles and factory safety through machinery control such as equipment status, factory control, and process and safety monitoring.
Environment monitoring – increase focus on environmental responsibility through status reporting of manhole covers, fire hydrants and chemical emission levels.
Agricultural – improve efficiency in the agricultural industry with livestock tracker, connected greenhouse, stationary tracking and monitoring of air quality, humidity, moisture, temperature, and weather conditions of air and soil.
Asset Tracking – improve efficiency and decrease costs by using pallet tracking and geo-fencing.
Utilities – improve efficiency and decrease waste by using gas and water metering, including smart meter consumption tracking and pipeline monitoring.
Verizon has partnered with chipset and module manufacturers for its NB-IoT network. The carrier said three module makers – Telit, SIM-COM and Quectel, are in the final stages of testing modules, and will be available for use in IoT development on the new network.
NB-IoT adds another connection option for businesses:
Verizon maintains a strong leadership position in IoT technology and solutions with a history of providing customers with many options to meet their needs including nationwide deployment of 4G LTE, LTE Cat 1, and LTE Cat M1 networks. While CAT-M1 targets a wide range of applications for business customers such as wearables, fleet and asset management, NB-IoT focuses on applications needing data rates below 100 kbps. NB-IoT technology occupies a dedicated frequency of 180 kHz bandwidth designated for IoT applications which does not share spectrum resources with commercial smartphone traffic.
“We have engineered our NB-IoT network in the Guard Band of our spectrum. By using the more complex Guard Band solution for our Narrow Band IoT Network, we are demonstrating very efficient use of spectrum assets while giving customers the breadth of options they need to best meet their needs. This strategic use of spectrum is one of the many variables that has resulted in Verizon’s continued performance superiority and strong capital management over the years,” said Bill Stone, Vice President of Technology Development and Planning at Verizon.
During his IoT World Tuesday keynote speech, Shamik Basu, Director of IoT Products at Verizon, said that massive IoT sensor networks could be deployed today using Verizon’s NB-IoT or LTE-M networks. “They make critical infrastructure intelligent….NB-IoT and LTE-M will co-exist in some networks (i.e. the IoT device module supports both as does the wireless base station). You don’t need gateways to deploy massive sensor networks today.”
Verizon is ready to support developers and manage commercial traffic:
Verizon continues to expand its already robust ecosystem of partners to help develop, bring to market, connect and manage IoT solutions. Verizon has partnered with leading chipset and module manufacturers so that IoT makers can immediately start working towards building their devices for the Verizon NB-IoT network. Three module manufacturers in final stages of testing – Telit, SIM-COM and Quectel – have modules on Verizon’s Network which are ready to be used in development efforts. Additionally, customers will be able to manage their connections securely using the integrated ThingSpace platform that supports connectivity management, location and device security.
Verizon has announced an initial NB-IoT Standard Price Plan, offering 50 KB of data with a $1.00 monthly access fee per device. The data allowance can be shared with other NB-IoT devices on the same price plan and on the same account.
Verizon at IoT World 2019, Santa Clara, CA: Booth 510
Verizon’s NB IoT demo, permits conference attendees to experience Verizon’s NB IoT network in action.
At Verizon’s 5G for enterprise demo, conference attendees will explore the possibilities that will result from the ultra-low latency and massively scalable characteristics of the Verizon’s 5G technology.
Mixed reality developer Arvizio will be on hand demonstrating their MR Studio mixed reality platform for XR experiences on Microsoft HoloLens. Arvizio has converged Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT platform and augmented/mixed reality technologies to transform how businesses connect and use the data flow from IoT devices.
At the ThingSpace Ready demo, conference attendees will learn about ThingSpace Ready, Verizon’s IoT Accelerator program, which enables easier IoT onboarding with Verizon. We curated partnerships with design houses, system integrators, module/modem providers, and SIM manufacturers, so OEMs (device makers) get easy access to the hardware and solutions needed to create the next generation of IoT devices, all with upfront and transparent pricing.
At the ThingSpace Manage demo, conference attendees will learn how Verizon’s ThingSpace Manage platform will enable customers to provision, monitor, diagnose and control their IoT devices using connectivity APIs, as well as value-added microservices. The exhibit will demonstrate key capabilities on the ThingSpace Manage Portal such as device activation, network diagnostics, and coarse location. A demonstration of SIM-secure will also showcase how Verizon can help protect devices if the SIM are removed.
At the Critical Asset Sensor demo, conference attendees will experience how Verizon made it simple for customers using public clouds to get the data they need to drive their businesses. Critical Asset Sensor is an Edge to Enterprise solution with 7 sensors, GPS, LTE-M connectivity, and the ThingSpace platform with APIs to consume data into Amazon Web Services or any other cloud platform that drives your business.
Deploying IoT Massive Sensor Networks:
In his IoT World keynote, Mr. Basu suggested that companies deploying IoT massive sensor networks match the technology to their needs. Those needs might include: long battery life (10+ years), long range (network) coverage, ubiquitous, low improvement cost, security, reliability/availability, and longevity. Putting a NB-IoT interface in a sensor module facilitates data collection in real time which can then be tabulated and analyzed at the edge or in the cloud.
Shamik recommended Verizon’s ThingSpace to manage a rich suite of services for IoT. Companies can then monetize their IoT solutions and use public clouds, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). By pre-integrating software on development kits pre-approved by Verizon and Amazon, developers have all the key building blocks to create an IoT solution out of the box. AWS’s reliability and scalability make it an ideal foundation for your solution.
The ThingSpace Cloud Connectors program allows you to build a powerful IoT solution by combining your AWS solution, the Verizon network and ThingSpace device lifecycle management tools.
In summary, NB-IoT combined with Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT accelerator/ management platform, new pricing and rich ecosystem of partners who have modules ready for development, enterprise customers have the ability to bring unique NB-IoT solutions to market quickly.
Verizon (VZ) posted earnings per share of $1.22, up from $1.17 per adjusted share in the comparable year-ago quarter. Revenues were $32.1 billion, versus $31.8 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Analysts in a Bloomberg consensus forecast expected the company to post earnings per share of $1.17 on revenues of $32.15 billion. Hence, the company beat earnings forecasts.
The company added 61,000 retail net postpaid additions, a key metric of how many users lock in a contract, which included 174,000 postpaid smartphone net additions. Verizon’s service revenues rose 4.4% during the first 3 months of 2019, helped in part by customers added higher-priced plans and new connections, the company said. Separately, Verizon added a net of 52,000 Fios Internet connections, but lost a net 53,000 Fios Video connections.
Verizon, which has begun its mobile 5G rollout in Chicago and Minneapolis (the only supported device is the Motorola Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod), said that its 5G mobile network buildout was part of its $4.3 billion in capital expenditures.
“2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Verizon,” said chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg in a statement. “We are leading the world in the development of new technologies with the launch of our 5G Ultra Wideband network. Our ambition remains unchanged to provide the most advanced next-generation networks in the world.”
What’s really interesting, is that as far as we know, Verizon doesn’t even participate in ITU-R WP 5D meetings. That is where IMT 2020 (5G radio aspects) is being standardized, with 3GPP contributing the input documents supported by most ITU-R delegates. An AT&T rep chairs that committee and another AT&T rep chairs the sub working group on IMT frequency aspects. Yet both companies falsely claim they’ve deployed “standards based” mobile 5G despite the FACT that the IMT 2020 Radio Interface Technology (RIT) won’t be selected by the evaluation groups till the fall of 2020.
Sprint, T-Mobile USA, and Dish are the other U.S. network operators that regularly attend ITU-R WP 5D meetings. Qualcomm, Apple, Intel and a few other U.S. member companies also attend those meetings.
So we wonder if Ericsson ONLY gets their IMT 2020 information from their network equipment vendors rather than obtain it directly by attending ITU meetings?
U.S. cities that will get Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband in 2019
Salt Lake City
Verizon wants its mobile 5G to offer impeccable speeds with low latency. To meet those demands, Verizon will initially deploy its 5G Ultra Wideband network on millimeter wave spectrum (mmWave). While mmWave will undoubtedly offer the fastest 5G experience, it has its flaws.
One of the notable challenges with the implementation of new “small cell” towers is the fact that they require local government approval — essentially meaning that carriers need approval in every city they want to install these new towers. To attempt to speed that up, Verizon is encouraging customers to lobby their elected officials. The new “Let’s 5G” website is aimed at both informing people about 5G and what it could offer, and informing users on how they can speed up the process of 5G deployment.
Verizon will initially roll out its 5G service on 28 GHz spectrum. One of the challenges with using the high-band spectrum is that it does not easily cover a large area, and penetration is a serious challenge. Over the next several years, Verizon will build out its 5G network around the country using small cells, and will eventually deploy service on a mid- and low-band spectrum.
In a real-world demonstration of the network at CES 2019, CEO Hans Vestburg showed speeds of 900 Mbps, as well as a crystal-clear video conference with the first fixed-wireless customer in Texas.
For the next several years Verizon’s 5G service will piggyback off its massive 5G network. Expect to see 5G service in larger cities and busy places like airports and stadiums, but you will be unlikely to see the service in the suburbs and rural areas for years to come.
Verizon, Samsung and Qualcomm report achieving a speed of 1.7 Gbps  through a mobile 5G connection while using the 28 GHz band. The test took place at Qualcomm’s San Diego, CA facilities, using Samsung’s 4G LTE and 5G NR gear, Verizon’s 28 GHz spectrum and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
Note 1. For IMT 2020, the minimum requirements for peak data rate are: – Downlink peak data rate is 20 Gbit/s. – Uplink peak data rate is 10 Gbit/s. Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 defines eight key “Capabilities for IMT-2020”, which form a basis for the 13 technical performance requirements. Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 also recognizes that the key capabilities will have different relevance and applicability for the different usage scenarios addressed by IMT-2020 (enhance mobile broadband, massive machine to machine communications, and ultra reliable, low latency communications).
“Successful inter-operation of multiple network technologies takes us another step closer to the commercialization of 5G mobility services,” Woojune Kim, the Senior Vice President and Head of North American Business at Samsung Electronics’ Networks Business said in a press release. “We are proud to join with Verizon and Qualcomm Technologies to spotlight the next steps driving network evolution. The use of substantial mmWave spectrum and EN-DC demonstrates how a seamless 5G/LTE approach succeeds in delivering high-speed, high-capacity mobility on next-generation networks.”
The year ahead likely will bring much news about the device market, which promises to be challenging. Indeed, the news seems to be picking up before the year arrives.
Verizon and Samsung said that they will bring a 5G smartphone  to market during the first half of 2019. They said that plans are to unveil a proof-of-concept 5G smartphone during the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui. The device seems similar to the one used in the data testing. It includes the Snapdragon Mobile Platform featuring the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements.
Note 2. Samsung showed a prototype design of its first 5G phone at the Qualcomm Summit, one that it promised will launch with Verizon and AT&T in the first half of 2019. Those “5G” networks will be based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” non stand alone (dependent on a LTE core network). The phone “is the result of years of collaboration to deploy an end-to-end solution for commercial 5G services using Samsung network equipment and personal devices,” the companies said in a press release.
AT&T also said that it will offer a Samsung 5G smartphone during the first half of the year. Cities AT&T is targeting for mobile 5G in 2019 are Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville; Louisville; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh; San Antonio and Waco, Texas; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Nashville; Orlando and San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, CA.
Capital expenditures (CAPEX) at AT&T and Verizon will rise slightly more than had been expected for 2018, according to Oppenheimer analysts. In a research note, analysts cited “5G” investments in upping their capex estimates for Verizon by 2%, and they raised their AT&T outlook by 3% because of FirstNet.
“For FY2018E we increase our total capex estimates [for Verizon] by 2% to $18.2B, due to wireless and our position that 5G deployments will accelerate,” the Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a report today. “We increase our FY2018E capex estimates [for AT&T] by ~3% to $25.0B due to FirstNet.”
According to Fierce Wireless, both Verizon and AT&T spent more on their networks in the first quarter of this year than some Wall Street analysts had expected.
“The biggest delta, or upside surprise vs. our estimates thus far has come from higher capex numbers at both Verizon and AT&T,” wrote the Wall Street analysts at Deutsche Bank Markets Researchin a May report to investors, following the carriers’ first-quarter earnings reports. They pointed out that Verizon spent fully $4.6 billion on its network during the first quarter, which they said was 29% more than they had been expecting and almost 50% more than what Verizon spent on its network during the same quarter last year.
Overall, the nation’s top carriers are expected to significantly raise their capex spending this year in advance of 5G launches. Barclays in February said it expects capex among the “big four” (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) to rise by 10% this year, which it said would be the largest increase in the past five years.
Many of the company’s capital-intensive projects are well under way or are near completion, which will support AT&T’s de-levering goals. The company now markets its 100% fiber network to 9 million locations, well on its way to the 12.5 million commitment it made as part of the DIRECTV acquisition. In fact, AT&T expects to reach 14 million customer locations by mid-2019. Also within the next year, the company expects to be in the 40% to 50% range of its FirstNet buildout commitment. And AT&T’s 4G LTE build in Mexico is nearly complete. AT&T also expects continuing benefits from its software defined network (SDN) investments.
High-speed networks. These networks must be able to deliver premium content to whatever screen the customer demands at the lowest cost per megabyte possible. This can include delivering content to homes, mobile devices and cars, and AT&T is investing in wireless build, fiber and new technologies like 5G to deliver a great viewing experience as demand continues to grow for 4K video and virtual and augmented reality.
AT&T Communications provides mobile, broadband, video and other communications services to U.S.-based consumers and nearly 3.5 million companies – from the smallest business to nearly all the Fortune 1000 – with highly secure, smart solutions. Revenues from these services totaled more than $150 billion in 2017.
Continued solid growth in its Mexico wireless operations in the second quarter of 2018 with as many as 700,000 net adds and improving churn. However, the strengthening U.S. dollar and volatility in foreign exchange rates are expected to pressure International segment results.
Wireless service revenue growth for full-year 2018, on a comparable basis. The company expects wireless service revenues will be essentially flat in the second quarter of 2018.
The transition of the video market to continue to negatively impact revenues and margins in the Entertainment Group. For the quarter, the company expects total video and broadband subscribers to increase, with DIRECTV NOW subscribers more than offsetting continued declines in traditional TV subscribers. Stephenson said that the mix will continue to shift to over-the-top video. Earlier today, the company announced new unlimited wireless plans — AT&T Unlimited &More Premium starting at $80 for the first line and AT&T Unlimited &More for $70 for one line or $40 per line for four lines— that include access to AT&T’s WatchTV service, the company’s newest video offering featuring 30+ live channels and more than 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand.2 Stephenson said the new product comes with attractive margins.
Verizon and Nokia reported testing “5G” New Radio (3GPP release 15) technology in the outdoors using multi-carrier aggregation to boost the transmitted signals. Verizon deployed its 28 GHz millimeter-wave spectrum in the trial, saying it cut latency to 1.5 milliseconds while transferring data at 1.8 gigabits per second.
“By continuing to push the technological envelope and make advancements like these, we’re driving the ongoing development of 5G technology and bringing it to life for our customers,” said Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president, 5G Ecosystems & Innovation for Verizon. “Verizon continues to lead the way toward the realization of true 5G technology.”
Marc Rouanne, president of Nokia Mobile Networks, focused on the outdoor element of the testing in a press release. “Nokia is committed to supporting Verizon’s advanced effort to bring 5G to commercial reality,” he said. “Our successful trial pushes the testing distance and because it has been conducted outside, tests the interference variables in an outdoor environment. This is a major milestone for preparing Verizon for widespread 5G implementation.”
Transmitting interactive VR and 4k video streams outdoors required a consistent, stable, reliable 3GPP NR 15 network connection. Adding in carrier aggregation over four carriers increases the bandwidth and speeds of the transmissions to the levels promised by true 5G technology. When customers begin to use 5G NR technology, they will look to leverage that type of reliable connectivity to stream high-definition video without buffering, experience improved AR/VR capabilities, and use other mobile 5G solutions in ways we haven’t yet imagined.
Previous Nokia/Verizon 5G tests were done in the lab and were only brief data packet transmissions. The testing announced today is far closer to the way in which subscribers actually will use the 5G. Verizon says it will launch stationary 5G in Los Angeles, Sacramento and two other U.S. markets during the second half of the year. A mobile version will follow.
Nokia and Verizon are cooperating deeply on 5G. In February, the companies – along with Qualcomm – successfully tested a 3GPP-compliant NR 5G call. The call was made over licensed spectrum on a 5G NR prototype device from Qualcomm. The spectrum was provided by Verizon and the networking technology by Nokia. The test was conducted at a Nokia facility in Murry Hill, N.J.
The competition to announce 3GPP compliant NR deployment is intense. Nokia also is working with T-Mobile. Last week, the wireless carrier said that the companies completed a bi-directional over-the-air 5G data session on a 3GPP-compliant NR system at T-Mobile’s Bellevue, WA lab.
Note: All should know that 3GPP is not a standards body and that their NR specification has not been submitted to ITU-R WP 5D for IMT 2020. The first 3GPP submission for IMT 2020 RIT won’t be till late July 2019.
Verizon will initiate its NG-PON2 deployments in Tampa, FL, with Calix network equipment. The telco is expected to use the technology for higher-speed enterprise broadband, small-cell and fixed wireless backhaul. “We’re looking at this platform to cover residential, business and wireless carriers,” said Verizon’s Vincent O’Byrne.
Verizon and other carriers are expected to use NG-PON2 to support higher-speed business services, as well as backhaul for small cell networks. In Verizon’s case, the technology also will be used to provide backhaul for fixed wireless, according to O’Byrne.
“As we go forward, we’re looking at this platform to cover residential, business and wireless carriers,” said O’Byrne. NG-PON2 will be the access portion of Verizon’s vision for the “intelligent edge” network, which also will comprise unified transport and core network changes, he said. “NG-PON2 is the part that hits customers,” he added.
Although the Tampa, FL NG-PON2 deployment will use equipment from Calix, Verizon continues to test a second supplier in the lab, O’Byrne said.
The NG-PON2 equipment that service providers initially will deploy will support four wavelengths, but providers can turn up just a single wavelength to start or can add an additional four wavelengths in the future, O’Byrne said.
Each wavelength can support 10 Gbps in each direction, supporting speeds of up to 8.5 Gbps for customer traffic. NG-PON2 standards specify a bonding option that would enable a service provider to combine multiple wavelengths together to support a single higher-speed connection, he explained.
Verizon has been testing NG-PON2 in the laboratory for several years. The Tampa customer trials, which will run for about three months, will make sure the carrier has the IT systems in place to support the offering, O’Byrne noted. A key function that will be examined is the ability to move services between wavelengths — a capability that will provide added protection from the consumer perspective and will enable Verizon to load balance. O’Byrne noted that during light traffic periods, Verizon might reduce the amount of power used by shifting customers to a single wavelength and turning off some line cards.
“You would have to be within Verizon to see the amount of positivity that is there that is similar to when we started to launch FiOS,” said O’Byrne, in an interview with Light Reading.
“We have a lot of big initiatives. These are exciting times. We do see ourselves on a positive cusp or tide of deploying new technologies and making a lot of changes to the network.” Vincent O’Byrne in an earlier video interview with Broadband World News. Vincent O’Byrne in an earlier video interview with Broadband World News. Those changes fit into what Verizon calls its Intelligent Network Edge strategy, designed to simplify and reduce costs across its network by eliminating the need for three separate network infrastructures and also speed its ability to deliver higher-speed services and bring fiber backhaul to the growing set of antennas that 5G deployment will require. Verizon had named two vendors for NG-PON 2 — ADTRAN Inc. and Calix.
It’s now moving forward initially with Calix because that vendor “was, from a timeline perspective, ahead and ready to go out and we have a need to get this deployment out there,” O’Byrne said.
Calix CEO and President Carl Russo shares O’Byrne’s excitement about what this move might mean for the bigger market. He credits Verizon with being willing and able to move quickly in adopting not just a new PON technology but a new overall approach to access networks. “When someone like Verizon, who is known for technical leadership and engineering orientation starts to deploy, it’s kind of like firing off the starting gun to the market saying, ‘Okay guys, this technology is go,’ ” he says in an interview.
“That doesn’t mean everybody rushes to it, it means you now have that legitimacy, that this is a production choice [operators] can make, as opposed to, ‘I’m not quite sure it’s ready.’ Now the market begins.”
Russo was impressed with the speed at which Verizon is working and the Agile processes it is using. “It has been an interesting partner approach because they have functioned as an Agile partner, it has been quite enjoyable,” he says. “It’s been hard, too, but they have engaged in a way that a lot of large customers find difficult to engage. There is a lot more exciting stuff coming, this market is real and it is going to get realer.” Verizon isn’t saying where it will initially deploy NG-PON 2 in Tampa because that will be a marketing decision, O’Byrne says, and will be driven by customer demand. Because NG-PON 2 can use the same physical fiber infrastructure that is already in use by GPON, Verizon will choose to deploy where customers need more than 1 Gbit/s service, he says. Because it’s newer, NG-PON 2 technology costs more than GPON, but those costs are offset by savings in many areas, as part of the transition to an intelligent edge and software-defined access.
For example, the AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System combines subscriber management, aggregation and optical line terminal (OLT) functions into a single box, which offers both power and space savings and significant operational efficiencies, including greater automation, O’Byrne says. The net result is speeds up to 40 Gbit/s throughput and tunable optics for essentially the same cost. “The ability to move all three service sets into one box saves us an inordinate amount of money from processing, and just the ability to increase the speed at which we can provision systems reduces our OSS complexities that we would have,” O’Byrne says.
“That is why this overall intelligent edge network, we kind of see it as a big emphasis within the company.”
The Verizon executive says the company is continuing to work in the labs with Adtran. He calls it “standard practice” to work with two vendors, and move forward first with one and then the other. Thanks to the interoperability trial work that Verizon has already done, producing the Verizon OMCI specification — which is being incorporated into the ITU-T G.988 standard — Calix and Adtran gear will have common interfaces, he says. (See Verizon Proves NG-PON2 Interoperability). For Calix, however, this does represent market validation of its five-year journey to become a software platform company, Russo said.
“This helps people understand just how much that transformation has been completed,” he says. “AXOS being deployed at this level should make it clear what is going on with us, as a platform software company.” When Verizon was doing OSS work on FiOS we were working with the group in Tampa to make it operational. They were doing all the development there. That is consistent with your post Carol. The real question is this part of the rollout of 5G or is it a residential play. My guess is the former. Verizon was quiet open about the services to be offered when FiOS rolled out.
According to a Verizon spokesman, the company still has facilities in Tampa, and that is where they are doing the production testing of the systems and the various technology elements involved in the Intelligent Edge Network, including NGPON2. As Vincent O’Byrne says in the story, the company hasn’t publicly announced what services it will be offering as that is a marketing choice. The spokesman says that “over time we expect to support residential, business and wireless use cases. Once the testing is completed, I expect we’d have more to announce in terms of details.”
While the backhaul connection to the central office for GPON is 2.5 Gbps, that number rises to as much as 80 Gbps for NG-PON2, explained Calix CEO Carl Russo in a separate interview. But “that’s actually not the big thing” about NG-PON2, according to Russo. The big thing, he said, is “all the wavelengths and what they can do for you.”
The way Calix thinks about NG-PON2, he said, is that “it delivers the physical layer we’ve been in pursuit of for 10 years.”
The “efficiency of a shared PON,” he said, includes “the ability of a wavelength to run in a non-shared fashion – you can basically have a point-to-point connection.”
NG-PON2, he said, could be thought of as “the physical layer for unified access.”
Calix had to make some modifications to its existing NG-PON2 equipment to meet Verizon’s needs for its converged access network, Russo noted. A key requirement was the ability to switch wavelengths on the fly in less than 25 milliseconds.
“That is a very challenging target to hit,” Russo said.
According to Russo, Verizon also will use Calix’s AXOS software-based management system to support “always on” operation. Modifications can be made to the network without taking the network out of service, Russo said.
Russo expects to see carriers deploying both GPON and NG-PON2 for years to come. The technology that may get squeezed is XGS-PON – an alternative approach to boosting FTTP speeds and capacity that adds only a single wavelength to existing PON infrastructure and which some people viewed as an intermediate technology until NG-PON2 was available, he said.
Verizon has chosen Samsung Electronics as a major supplier in the U.S. telco’s push to offer high speed fixed access internet and other services over its wireless network. Financial terms of this “5G” business relationship weren’t disclosed. Samsung’s “5G” Fixed Wireless Access network products (including 5G home routers and 5G Radio Access units) will be used for commercial deployments.
Verizon says its “5G” fixed access network will launch in the second half of this year in Sacramento, CA, which is more than two full years before ITU-R WP5D completes its IMT 2020 standards. Verizon plans to add the same “5G” fixed broadband access service in four other U.S. markets later in 2018. It will use cellular antennas to beam high-speed internet into consumers’ homes. Samsung will make network equipment for Verizon—including the small boxes that will sit inside each home, receiving the signal and translating it into WiFi— the companies said Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Verizon said last month it would also use “5G” network equipment made by Ericsson for commercial launches in other U.S. markets.
Verizon estimates the market opportunity for initial 5G residential broadband services to be approximately 30 million households nationwide. In addition, it says that the 5G commercial launch will not have a material impact on its consolidated Capex in 2018 and that it expects its full-year 2018 capital spending program to be consistent with the past several years.
Last year, Verizon began “5G” fixed access trials, focused on home broadband service, in 11 U.S. markets from New Jersey to California. Samsung will provide network gear for Verizon’s launch in Sacramento, where customers will be offered the option of purchasing the faster wireless access capability. Verizon and Samsung collaborated on 5G trials in parts of California, Georgia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Washington, D.C. Verizon and Samsung said that those trials revealed that a single 5G radio could reach the 19th floor of a multi-dwelling unit, and that broadband service was achieved using line of sight, partial Line of Sight (LOS) and even non-LOS connections. They also claimed that “environmental factors” such as rain and snow, did not interrupt “5G” based broadband service.
“The industry has been discussing 5G connectivity for years, and through our joint collaboration with partners like Samsung, we are beginning to make it a reality for our customers,” Ed Chan, chief technology architect and network planning at Verizon, said in a statement. “Sacramento is an ideal place to begin deploying 5G broadband services, providing a progressive environment for creating future use cases.”
“Together with Verizon, we have explored the vast potential of 5G through market trials across the U.S.,” added Mark Louison, SVP and GM, networks division, at Samsung Electronics America. “At the same time, Samsung applied lessons learned from these real-world trials to ensure that our complete end-to-end 5G portfolio is ready for commercial service. We are delighted to work with Verizon on this journey to create unprecedented user experiences powered by 5G.”
[Note that there’s been no mention of when “5G” mobile service might be available from Verizon.]
“5G” carries the potential to disrupt the broadband fixed access market for triple play services. That market is currently dominated by cable/MSO providers like Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc, but AT&T is also there with its U-verse and AT&T Fiber offerings.
Companies globally are investing billions of dollars in 5G despite continued debate over its ultimate uses beyond faster download speeds. The three main applications areas for IMT 2020 are:
1] Enhanced Mobile Broadband
2] Ultra-Reliable, Low Latency Communications
3] Massive Machine Communications, i.e. Internet of Things (IoT)
Note that fixed broadband Internet access is not one of them!
Here’s an ITU diagram of IMT 2020 5G Use Cases from from a September 2016 ITU presentation:
Arthur D. Little has written a report called “5G deployment models are crystallizing” in which it makes the case that telcos need to find use cases now, if not to reap the benefits of being early to market then as a defensive measure. Where in the past only other telcos had the wherewithal to roll out a new generation of wireless technology, ADL points out that that’s no longer true. Non-telecom players are moving into the 5G space, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Hitachi, Scania, NEC, Ericsson, and Comau. Government agencies and telecom operators expect broad “5G” availability in many markets by 2020, but again, that won’t be based on ITU-R ratified IMT 2020 standards.
“5G is a reality,” said Kim Young-ky, president of Samsung’s networks business, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
South Korean technology giant Samsung, a fairly small player in the network equipment world, believes its knowledge making products and components could give it an edge with telecom customers seeking to sell connectivity to a wider range of devices. Samsung’s network business generated some 2 trillion ($1.9 billion) to 2.5 trillion won in 2017, according to research firm Counterpoint Technology Market Research. It targets annual revenue of 10 trillion won by 2022, a Samsung spokesman said.
The average U.S. consumer uses about five gigabytes of mobile data a month, Mr. Kim said. But after 5G becomes more ubiquitous in the next few years, he believes consumers will eventually use closer to 100 gigabytes monthly on new services such as virtual or augmented reality programs—or even from driverless cars that will require greater data speeds to rapidly process traffic conditions.
About two years ago, Samsung combined about 1,000 workers from different divisions including handsets, network and its central research-and-development group, to create a “Next Generation Communications Business” team dedicated to 5G.
“With 5G, it’s going to be expanding beyond your phone,” Kim Woo-june, a senior vice president in Samsung’s network business, said in an interview. The industry’s first mobile phones with 5G capabilities aren’t likely to debut until 2019, he added.
AT&T last month said it would launch a “5G” trial site in Texas, after tests in other markets. Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. have said they are working on nationwide “5G” networks, targeting late 2019 or 2020.