Verizon has now released a report showing off its wireless network highlights for the year 2017. The report, which the company calls its 2017 Wireless Network Milestones covers everything from improvements to Verizon's network coverage and reliability to new advancements in both 4G LTE Advanced and preparations for 5G. Although it understandably avoids discussion on the company's financials for the year, with consideration for several flat quarters reported by the company this year, it also covers some industry breakthroughs claimed by the service provider over the past 365 days.
Starting things off, Verizon reports that this year the company was able to reach 953Mbps under real-world conditions using Licensed Assisted Access, as well as being the first to surpass gigabit speeds. Beyond that, the company says that it was the first to deploy Frequency Division Duplex Massive MIMO and that it managed to implement 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM across more than 560 markets in the US. Going further, Verizon demoed end-to-end band 48 citizens broadband radio service carrier aggregation and deployed carrier aggregation in around 2,000 markets covered by its network. Taking things further still, the carrier launched a national Cat M1 LTE network specifically designed for use by the IoT. Each of these advancements, meanwhile, was made in support of the incoming 5G networks, in addition to Verizon's pre-commercial 5G trials being run over the course of the year – with the company planning commercial 5G network launches beginning the second half of 2018. Verizon also provides some examples of information obtained through those trials. For example, millimeter-wave spectrum performed better than the company expected prior to testing. Using its 28Ghz spectrum, the company was able to consistently penetrate as high as 19 floors in a building. It was able also to achieve median speeds of 1GB per second at distances of over 2,000 feet from a given cell site, which the company says is well beyond what was initially expected, as is the under 10-millisecond latency experienced during testing. Wall and building material penetration are also improving, as is penetration through lowE window glass. Meanwhile, the company has also recently opened a new open innovation lab in New York City's Silicon Alley. That project will house startups and other entrepreneurs with a focus on advancing 5G at an accelerated pace.
Rounding out its accomplishments for the year, Verizon points out its efforts in the interest of public service. Namely, the company has small cell deployments in the top 25 market and in 90-percent of the top 100 markets with the goal of enabling both consumers and first responders. This year, the company deployed rapid solutions in response to each of 2017's hurricanes and in response to this year's wildfires in California. According to Verizon, the company's network in affected areas remain almost completely operation during the emergencies. During Hurricane Harvey, the company claims that 98-percent of its network remains in operation during and after the storm. Hurricane Irma only resulted in five days where its network wasn't performing at its baseline, according to Verizon, although the company's network in Florida never dropped below 90-percent operational. Finally, the company also provided data relief to customers and implemented temporary cell sites and charging stations, in addition to providing more than $15 million in total donations to provide relief in affected areas. The company says it was able to accomplish those tasks while still managing to be rated best overall network performance and reliability, with the fastest available speeds, according to RootMetrics – in addition to being rated best provider for 2017 by J.D. Power.