Verizon said today that it expects to use in-building 5G small cell sites to support private 5G networks for enterprise customers. According to a company spokesperson, the technology will be commercially available before the end of this year.
As the company explains in a press release, “A private 5G network is a smaller, self-contained network whose components all reside in a single facility. The most robust, lowest-latency, highest performing 5G network relies on three basic components: a private core serving exclusively that single system, a radio access network (an indoor cell site) . . . and a MEC [mobile edge compute] platform.”
A key benefit of 5G networks is lower latency, but optimizing its usefulness is expected to require mobile edge computing. The idea is that cloud applications must be delivered from a point near the edge of the network in order to match 5G’s low latency.
Private 5G customers are likely to include hospitals, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, schools, ports, retail stores and more, Verizon said.
Verizon to date has used millimeter wave spectrum for 5G, enabling the company to obtain the fastest 5G speeds but over relatively short distances. A key concern is that transmissions in that spectrum band do not penetrate walls well, so it’s not surprising to see the company offering in-building 5G cellsites to address that limitation.
What might seem to be a negative could actually be a positive, however, as the inability to penetrate walls also could help to keep indoor 5G communications private. The downside, though, is that the lack of spillover coverage would prevent outside users from using the cell site, making it somewhat more challenging for Verizon to monetize the investment.
The Verizon spokesman declined to answer a question about how the company plans to monetize in-building 5G cell sites, other than to say that the company has “several more technology testing steps to complete before we have the marketing details to share.”
Considering Verizon’s emphasis on the cell sites as an element of private 5G, however, it would seem likely that the company would charge enterprise customers on a case-by-case basis for a customized private 5G solution that would include in-building cell sites and other elements.
Verizon In-Building 5G
Verizon expects to use in-building 5G cell sites from Corning and Samsung to support its private 5G offering. The company said it has completed successful lab testing with Corning equipment and has begun field testing the equipment in a live network environment. Samsung 5G small cell sites are currently undergoing lab testing.
Verizon Consumer CEO Ronan Dunne said last week that the company wants to make 5G “impossible to ignore.”
Perhaps in pursuit of that goal, Verizon yesterday released a 50-minute video titled “Speed of Thought” that highlights advanced 5G use cases such as the ability to do non-invasive medical procedures remotely using 5G. The video illustrates the example of remotely opening a blockage to a heart artery, an emergency procedure that can save a person’s life, but which must be done immediately – an impossible task in remote areas. Such a critical application needs visual imaging and is likely to work best with ample bandwidth, such as what millimeter wave 5G supports. But if millimeter wave 5G is used, it is likely to require the support of in-building 5G infrastructure.