Verizon said it achieved upload speeds of 711 Mbps in a 5G technology trial. Although carriers have seen 5G download speeds above 1 Gbps, it has been more challenging to achieve fast speeds on the uplink.
Once commercialized, the technology could “pave the way for uploading videos, pictures and data to the cloud, social media accounts, or sharing directly with others in densely populated venues like downtown streets, concerts and football stadiums,” Verizon noted in its announcement of the trial.
Verizon sees faster upload speeds being valuable for both fixed and mobile users.
The company also sees faster upload speeds driving new private network use cases for enterprises. Faster uplink speeds could enable quality control solutions for manufacturing that use artificial intelligence to identify tiny defects in products visible only through ultra high-definition video feeds, the company noted. Other upload-intensive applications could include multi-location, massive security video capabilities and “augmented reality centered customer experiences,” the company said.
5G Upload Speeds
Technology used in the trial was supplied by Samsung and Qualcomm. Samsung supplied its 28 GHz 5G compact macro and virtualized radio access network (vRAN) and vCore technology, along with a smartphone form-factor test device that used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system.
The trial used 400 MHz of Verizon’s millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and 20 MHz of spectrum in what the company called “4G frequency” bands. The trial also relied on mmWave carrier aggregation and single-user MIMO (SU-MIMO).
Millimeter wave spectrum supports the fastest wireless speeds on the market today, but over relatively short distances. Verizon has had a tighter focus on millimeter wave spectrum in comparison with the other major carriers, which may be a long-term advantage for the company, but in the short term, it has meant that the company has been taking longer to build out its 5G network in comparison with the other carriers because of the need to deploy more cellsites.
T-Mobile, in comparison, used mid-band spectrum to quickly deploy coverage and to achieve multi hundred megabit download speeds. For now, most wireless customers may see little additional benefit in gigabit versus multi-hundred megabit download speeds.
It would be interesting to know how much carriers can boost upload speeds using mid-band or lower-frequency spectrum because that would determine whether Verizon’s 5G upload speed breakthrough will be a market differentiator.
In a prepared statement in the press release about Verizon’s 5G upload speed news, Verizon Senior Vice President of Technology Planning reiterated Verizon’s commitment to millimeter wave deployments, while also highlighting the company’s expansion using mid-band spectrum won in recent auctions.
“[E]ven as we drive towards massive and rapid expansion of our 5G service using our newly acquired mid-band spectrum, we are doubling down on our commitment to mmWave spectrum usage,” said Koeppe. “You will see us continue to expand our mmWave footprint to deliver game changing experiences for the densest parts of our network and for unique enterprise solutions. We had over 17K mmWave cell sites at the end of last year and are on track to add 14K more in 2021, with over 30k sites on air by the end of this year, and we’ll keep building after that.”