Verizon said it has completed a 5G dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) demonstration using technology from Qualcomm and Ericsson, and a spokesperson said the company will deploy the technology in its commercial network “in the near future.” The technology is designed to enable 5G to share spectrum already deployed for LTE with the LTE service, which should enable Verizon to expand its 5G coverage areas.
Just don’t expect the 5G experience based on DSS to be the same as the one that Verizon has delivered so far over its current 5G offering, which has been deployed on spectrum in the millimeter wave band.
Verizon 5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
Verizon has touted speeds in the hundreds of megabits per second for its current 5G offering deployed on millimeter wave spectrum. But the Verizon spokesperson declined to say what speeds the company will be able to provide using DSS for 5G.
When asked what capabilities users will get when they are on 5G via DSS using spectrum in which Verizon has also deployed LTE, the spokesperson said in an email to Telecompetitor that “customers will get an experience equal to or better than what they see with 4G LTE today.”
She also went on to tout the benefits of 5G Ultra Wideband, which is Verizon’s name for its 5G offering deployed in the millimeter wave band, calling it a “keenly differentiated” experience.
Verizon is able to offer the highest speeds using 5G in the high-frequency millimeter wave band because higher-frequency spectrum supports faster speeds but over shorter distances — which means that Verizon initially has deployed the service only in high-traffic areas of major metro markets. The spectrum that will underlie Verizon’s DSS-based 5G offering is in lower frequency bands, including mid-band and low-band spectrum.
Verizon views DSS as a solution, or at least a partial solution, to an issue that some industry observers have noted: The company doesn’t have much in the way of spare mid-band spectrum, which some observers see offering the optimum mixture of coverage and speed for 5G.
The company isn’t alone in guarding information about 5G speeds. T-Mobile hasn’t said what speeds it will support when it launches 5G using low-band spectrum – an event now targeted for early next month.
Of course, 5G isn’t all about speed. It also is designed to provide lower latency to support autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality and other delay-sensitive applications. But in the press release, Verizon said nothing about the latency of 5G over DSS, instead touting the low latency of its 5G Ultra Wideband (UWB) offering – noting that customers will see “near real-time experience” when they are on the UWB network.
Verizon 5G devices currently on the market fall back to LTE when 5G is not available (and currently that means where 5G UWB is not available). Based on the information that Verizon has provided, it would appear that when the company deploys 5G using DSS as the fallback for 5G UWB, end users won’t notice much difference from what they see now when falling back to LTE.
There is an advantage to Verizon operationally in deploying 5G using DSS, however. In the email to Telecompetitor, the spokesperson noted that deploying 5G using DSS will “enable the expansion of the 5G standalone experience as we move forward with deployment of the new 5G core.”
Initially service providers have deployed 5G in non-standalone mode, meaning that it is uses an existing 4G network for functions such as communicating with towers and servers. Standalone 5G, on the other hand, is not reliant on 4G for such capabilities, potentially enabling 5G networks to operate more efficiently and economically moving forward.