Verizon is still committed to the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Services spectrum and will be launching first CBRS-enabled smartphones by the end of the year, the network operator said earlier this week. The New York-based wireless carrier claims it already "strongly encouraged" original equipment manufacturers to embrace the technology and help commercialize it in the near future, having added that the 2018 debut of those offerings will be just the beginning, with such products being set to "expand aggressively" over the course of the next year.
A number of popular handsets from OEMs such as Samsung and Apple already support CBRS, i.e. band 48 that's required for 3.5GHz connectivity in the United States. A similar version of the technology is also available via band 42 in Japan, with several telecom regulators in Europe presently planning auctions that will also make that spectrum available on the Old Continent, thus benefiting existing handsets that support it and incentivizing OEMs to release more such devices going forward. Verizon has been testing the technology alongside the likes of Google, Qualcomm, Nokia, and Ericsson, having also revealed CBRS contributors have recently been experimenting with it using a broad range of private LTE sites.
CBRS is an unconventional wireless solution that many industry players are optimistic about and see it as a potentially significant improvement over traditional 4G LTE despite the fact that band 42 may not be used for 5G, at least not initially. In terms of the end-user experience, 3.5GHz frequencies can allow for the same voice, text, and data transmission features as other LTE bands already do, with the main difference being the manner in which spectrum is assigned to users. Instead of large blocks, network operators can leverage small CBRS spectrum portions on a per-case basis and return any unnecessary chunks for third-party deployment, with the system of utilizing and returning it being entirely automated, thus improving efficiency and possibly lowering buildout costs compared to traditional mobile services. As such, CBRS is expected to be a particularly attractive proposition for B2B solutions and Verizon isn't the only stateside carrier currently exploring the technology, with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint doing the same.