Verizon and Crown Castle have signed a new long-term agreement that calls for Verizon to lease 15,000 new small cells from Crown Castle over the next four years.
The small cells will support Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide, according to Crown Castle. Those are the brand names that Verizon uses for 5G service deployed in millimeter wave spectrum bands and in lower-frequency bands, respectively.
Once installed, the small cell leases will have an initial term of 10 years, Crown Castle said in a press release about the deal.
Verizon Small Cell Strategy
Small cells are particularly important to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service because although the millimeter wave band supports the highest speeds, its range is limited, requiring denser cellsite infrastructure in comparison with what service providers traditionally have used.
“Verizon has led the industry in 5G deployment and has been at the forefront of building a strong ecosystem of stakeholders who will continue to drive forward this essential platform for innovation,” said Gina Cacciatore, Executive Director of Network Engineering and Operations for Verizon, in the Crown Castle press release. “This agreement with Crown is an important component of our 5G expansion plans and will advance the infrastructure requirements for many more people to access this revolutionary technology.”
According to a 2017 network operator survey conducted by Rethink Technology Research for the Small Cell Forum, 40% of operators expected to deploy 100 to 350 small cells per square kilometer (both indoors and outdoors) in areas they densify.
Some indoor small cell deployments may support private 5G services, which some see as a promising revenue opportunity. Enterprise customers are expected to use a combination of private 5G and mobile edge computing (MEC) to support low-latency industry-specific applications. A key advantage of 5G networks is their ability to provide low-latency connectivity, but to maximize those benefits, cloud resources must be located near the end user, and private 5G can give enterprise customers maximum control over connectivity to MEC resources.
Although the Verizon Crown Castle deal pertains specifically to 5G small cells, small cells also are part of the carrier’s small cell plans for other types of connectivity, including services that use CBRS band spectrum. That band is subject to power limitations that limit its range, making it part of Verizon’s broader network densification plans.
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