Verizon may be behind T-Mobile when it comes to deploying its mid-band 5G network, but its executive team remains confident that the company will be a strong contender in the battle for the best 5G network when it completes its C-band 5G deployment in late 2024.
Speaking at the Cowen Communications Infrastructure Summit earlier this month, Adam Koeppe, SVP of network technology strategy, architecture & planning at Verizon, told investors that the company is expanding its C-band 5G coverage and also increasing capacity. Verizon deployed 60 MHz of the C-band spectrum in each market in its first wave and is now increasing that to 140 MHz to 200 MHz of C-band spectrum per market. The company also is using some of its existing AWS and PCS spectrum in its 5G expansion.
Koeppe said once Verizon gets its C-band 5G network (about 250 million POPs) deployed by the end of 2024 and combines that with its CBRS spectrum and mmWave spectrum, it will have the “best 5G network period.”
Cowen analysts don’t disagree with Koeppe but noted that Verizon is still about one year behind T-Mobile with T-Mobile already covering 235 million POPs with its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum. In addition, T-Mobile’s goal is to hit 260 million POPs in the 2.5 GHz spectrum by year-end.
O-RAN is coming Koeppe also said that Verizon still believes in having an open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture in its network. The company currently claims to be the largest virtual RAN (V-RAN) carrier today and Koeppe said it will likely deploy O-RAN equipment in its network later this year or definitely in 2023. However, he added that there needs to be more standards work on the software development and on O-RAN interoperability first.
Interestingly, Koeppe said that the company’s fixed wireless access (FWA) service, while currently attracting customers in both urban and rural markets, is still viewed primarily as a rural broadband play because of the large amount of C-band spectrum Verizon has in its rural markets.