verizon 5gVerizon expects to deploy 5G nationwide this year, now that the company has completed successful trials using dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology to enable LTE and 5G services to run simultaneously over low-frequency, also known as low-band, spectrum.

Until now, Verizon has deployed 5G only in high-frequency millimeter wave bands, which offer the highest speeds but over relatively short distances – a limitation that has caused the company’s 5G coverage to lag behind that of AT&T and T-Mobile, both of whom have used a combination of low-band and millimeter wave spectrum to support 5G.

Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
As Verizon explained in a press release, DSS allocates spectrum resources between 5G and LTE in real-time, depending on customer usage patterns. This enables spectrum to be used more efficiently, the company said.

The company said DSS will be “commercially deployed in the near future.”

Customers with 5G-enabled devices will use millimeter wave spectrum – an offering Verizon calls 5G Ultra Wideband — where available and will fall back on low-band 5G where Ultra Wideband isn’t available.

verizon 5g node
Verizon 5G Node (Source: Verizon)

A Verizon spokesperson told us previously that 5G deployed in the company’s low-band spectrum may not support speeds that are much higher than with LTE. Nevertheless, the company sees other advantages to low-band 5G.

“The launch of DSS technology will unleash the power of 5G technology, allowing for robust computing at the edge of the network, and greater programmability of the network to manage dynamic traffic and uses,” Verizon said in today’s release about Verizon 5G nationwide plans.

Detractors argue that Verizon is forced to use DSS because the company doesn’t have sufficient lower-frequency spectrum holdings to dedicate such spectrum to 5G.

Verizon may have been the biggest advocate of DSS. But it isn’t alone in its plans to use the technology. AT&T said just last week that DSS is live in portions of its commercial network. Like Verizon, AT&T is using DSS to enable LTE and 5G to share the same spectrum.

DSS “will complement Verizon’s primary strategy of offering a keenly differentiated 5G Ultra Wideband service on [millimeter wave] spectrum which will remain our deployment priority,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice president of technology planning at Verizon, in the Verizon 5G nationwide press release.

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9 thoughts on “Verizon Gets Set to Deploy 5G Nationwide Using Low-Band Spectrum and DSS

  1. So would someone please tell me just exactly what is the purpose of 5G over low-band spectrum if it cannot output data rates that are any better than LTE-A/+? Does 5G over low-band enable the self-driving cars and the advanced tele-medicine applications that are being touted as what 5G can do? Do those functions work with low-band 5G? From what I have read, reports indicate that T-Mobile and AT&T’s low-band 5G data speeds are terrible compared to what they offer with current LTE, so I am wondering if 5G over low-band will actually bring any benefits at all. I would really like to see an article about this from Telecompetitor or some other site.

    1. Low band spectrum has the ability to penetrate structures and travel longer distances. The drawback to it is that data cannot move as fast as high band because the channel space for low band limits the transfer rate. Having both low and high band spectrum capability on a device offers greater flexibility for data to be transmitted.

      1. Right, but you still have the evidently very limited data-handling capability of the low-band 5G. You can't put a mm-wave site every 600 feet along US 183 from border to border, or along any US/state highway or interstate either, it's just not workable. So how are you supposed to get to self-driving cars, etc? I just don't get the connection. Being able to penetrate walls and travel longer distances does not give any benefit if data cannot be carried at a speed high enough to enable those "advanced services".

        1. Indeed. Depending upon terrain and vegetation, 5G mm-wave cells will be between 200 and 2000 feet apart. Deploying something like that in places like rural New England would be a money-loser. Too much money spent to deploy too many cell sites to provide service to too few customers. That's a good way to go broke. I, for one, don't ever expect to see 5G mm-wave deployment up in my neck of the woods here in New Hampshire.

          Using Low Band to provide 5G service makes perfect sense under those conditions.

          1. Oh definitely, millimeter-wave will never be a "thing" outside of dense urban jungles, and even then there are major hurdles to get past, such as how to get useful service indoors. No carrier yet has come up with a solution that I have seen.

            So I am thinking that because of the limitations of low-band 5G, self-driving cars will never be a thing outside of the urban areas as well. Self-driving cars have a limited utility even in urban settings in my opinion. Maybe there are some characteristics of 5G that will enable these advanced functions outside urban areas and with low-band but I haven't heard anything on it yet. The idea of a family taking off on a cross-country vacation in a self-driving car with the kids doing gaming and watching 8k video all powered by 5G I think is just a pipe-dream promise. Good discussion and I still think it is something that Telecompetitor and other sites should look into.

          2. People in the know about self-driving cars that I talk to say that connecting the dots between 5G and self-driving cars is completely overblown — more hype than reality to try to sell a 5g narrative that makes it look cool and futuristic. As I understand it, true autonomous cars won't need an always on 5G connection. They will indeed be autonomous, meaning they have everything they need to operate autonomously onboard the vehicle, and can operate independent of a 5G connection. That's not to say they won't ever connect to a 5g network when it is available…they will. They just don't need it all the time.

  2. The operational benefits of a common hardware platform for mmWave and low band. 5G hardware is generally more programmable producing (in theory) additional operational benefits. The high bandwidth available using mmWave is mostly a product of having much larger channel sizes available. Channel sizes on low band are much more restricted, but other benefits such as slicing, DSS, common hardware, lower latency, etc should be feasible. You will see 4G and 5G hardware coexist for the foreseeable future.

    The speeds seen by consumers are largely driven by the size of the channel, the efficiency of the connection between the end user device and the cell, and how effectively the cell can re-use the same channel to communicate with multiple devices. The first factor is largely constrained on low band by historical fragmentation of low band spectrum into relatively small channels when compared to mmWave. The efficiency is constrained by the laws of physics and massive leaps in this area would be unexpected. How efficiently spectrum can be used will receive a lot of attention — dynamic sharing of the same spectrum between 4G/5G, using smaller sub-channels per end user device, re-using the spectrum to communicate with multiple devices in the cell at once (similar to MU-MIMO for wifi), etc.

  3. aka Verizon cannot sit idle and let T-Mobile/AT&T take all the 5g shine, and realize they have to have *something* to have a competitive edge and justify the overcharging for "the network"

  4. You won't see mm-wave band deployment in thinly settled or rural parts of the nation because the ROI isn't there. Customer density won't support it. You may see some mm-wave deployment in town centers, but once away from them it will be dependent on Low Band. The only saving grace is use of the new 3.7GHz band which adds more spectrum.

    5G on Low Band will have higher data speeds due to the different modulation scheme being employed, BUT you won't see the speeds mm-wave will provide.

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