Verizon said today that it achieved 5G speeds of 4.3 Gbps in a lab trial using a combination of millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum and C-band spectrum. In the announcement, Verizon Senior Vice President of Technology Planning Adam Koeppe said the trial demonstrated “the exceptional network performance our customers will receive as we are able to integrate our newly acquired C-band spectrum with mmWave spectrum.”
Verizon initially deployed 5G using mmWave spectrum, which supports the highest speeds but over relatively short distances. Recently, the company was the biggest winner in the C-band spectrum auction and is getting set for deployments in the band beginning early next year.
C-band spectrum is considered mid-band spectrum, which is seen by many stakeholders as offering the optimum mixture of speed and coverage.
The speed that any swath of spectrum can support depends, not only on the band’s frequency but also on how much spectrum is used. The Verizon lab trial used 100 MHz of C-band spectrum and 600 MHz of mmWave spectrum.
The results were almost identical to what Verizon achieved in a trial on its commercial network early last year using 800 MHz of mmWave spectrum. The company achieved speeds of 4.2 Gbps in that trial.
The latest Verizon trial that combined mmWave and C-band spectrum used basebands and radios from Ericsson. The trial also used a pre-market test device based on a modem from MediaTek that combines mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G technologies onto a single chip and which conforms to the latest 3GPP Release 16 global cellular standard.
Verizon 5G Speeds
Verizon noted in today’s announcement that it plans to make 5G service available in the first quarter of 2022 using C-band spectrum in all 46 markets where the satellite providers that currently use the spectrum have agreed to early clearing. At that point, the C-band service will be available to 100 million people.
“Over 2022 and 2023, coverage is expected to increase to more than 175 million people and by 2024 and beyond, when the remaining C-band spectrum is cleared, more than 250 million people are expected to have access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service on C-band spectrum,” Verizon said in today’s press release.
The press release headline indicates that Verizon plans to “rapidly integrate” C-band and mmWave spectrum, but it’s worth noting that those plans may not move in lockstep with the C-band rollout. Even though Verizon started mmWave deployments before C-band deployments, the mmWave deployments could take longer because of mmWave spectrum’s limited range.