Verizon 5G may not have rolled out in as many regions as some of its competitors, or even offer the fastest 5G speeds, but it's still at least a year ahead of everybody else. That's according to recently reported statements made by Verizon's Ronan Dunne. It may be as far ahead as fifteen months, the executive claims.
The comments were made during Oppenheimer’s 22nd Annual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference and are grounded in the way Verizon has executed its rollout compared to other carriers.
Not only did Verizon get an early start with real-world usage thanks to the rollout of home Wi-Fi based on the technology, but Verizon also hasn't been waiting around to expand on the networks used by consumers. While it's in nine cities now and expanding to new areas there, it plans as many as thirty cities by the end of 2019.
That's been enabled by decisions made by the carrier up to four years ago, Mr. Dunne says. Specifically, the company has been buying up and implementing spectrum for 4G that will enable rapid 5G densification.
All of that has been fueled by data pooled from customers' real-world use, leading to updates on a claimed weekly basis. Those improve the software underpinning Verizon's 5G and allow an increasing number of users per site.
Far beyond simply rolling out one type of 5G technology over a select number of bands, Verizon has also been employing a strategy that both Sprint and T-Mobile hope to take advantage of if and when their merger is finalized.
Namely, the company has been using a healthy mix of frequencies to build out its network depending on the density of users.
Low-to-mid frequencies are perfect for penetrating over larger areas — eventually bridging the gaps to allow a swath of coverage from coast to coast. In lower frequencies, the speeds will approximate high-performance LTE networks while also improving the bandwidth and latency.
High-range frequencies deliver more speed and bandwidth for high-population areas and others where high-intensity applications for 5G will converge.
That's exactly how Verizon is using its spectrum too, Mr. Dunne says, and it's executing that in the real-world with real-customers, again unlike other companies.
Can AT&T and others catch up?
T-Mobile and Sprint will follow a similar approach, using T-Mobile's assortment of low-range frequencies and Sprint's massive license on 2.5GHz frequencies to bridge the gap between what is missing in their respective spectrum portfolios. The merger between the two companies, if challenges against that fail, could still take years.
More time will be needed to bring the two carrier networks together too, although both are already implementing their own 5G at their respective ends of the spectrum.
AT&T, on the other hand, arguably has the fastest 5G around — managing to hit 2Gbps just a few months back. It has also already rolled out in 21 cities. The big issue with that is that AT&T isn't letting day-to-day consumers access the network at all. Instead, opting to relegate the service to a select number of business consumers. The company has not been responding to, as pointed out by Mr. Dunne, fluctuations and issues caused by large numbers of daily customers.