Verizon now plans to utilize its 4G LTE network to drive 5G growth nationwide in 2020, reports indicate. The company announced its shift in direction today and will use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to make its push.
As is implied by the announcement, that means that the carrier's current network for 4G will be utilized. And the spectrum used by that network will essentially be shared with the next-gen networking tech. That will speed up its rollout significantly since Verizon has been one of the slower companies to expand 5G. But that also comes at a cost.
Verizon's network will support standardized 5G but it won't be the gigabit-speed 5G it's rolled out before. Instead, the new network will utilize the same low-band 5G that's been used by T-Mobile — and now merged Sprint — as well as AT&T. The low-band network delivers speeds that are closer to the maximum theoretically allowed by LTE. But that's delivered with wider bandwidth and lower latency.
So it will support a wider number of users across a larger area. And it will do so in a way that allows more users to gain access to those higher speeds than before.
Why has Verizon been so slow on nationwide 5G?
Verizon's move will additionally have the benefit of being quicker to arrive. Summarily, because it's using the current networking infrastructure, it can effectively just be 'switched on'. That has the added benefit of buying Verizon some time to implement standalone 5G networking equipment. And once that step is complete, the network will be much stronger still.
The company has also already been trialing DSS already, so it shouldn't take too long to roll out after the announcement either. In fact, Verizon says it wants to have its nationwide 5G network in place by the end of 2020. The exact timeline has not been provided but it will be much shorter than the previous rollout.
With regard to why Verizon's network was so slow by comparison over the past year or so, that all comes down to the technology in use. The carrier's endeavor has largely hinged on high-band, mmWave 5G. Not only is that a much higher speed networking technology. It also relies on frequencies that can't penetrate buildings and other objects as well. And the distance it can span from a single network hub is dramatically shorter too.
So, for Verizon's network — compared to others in the industry — the rollout has chiefly been confined to cities. And, even then, that confinement has been to neighborhoods or streets rather than to entire cities. It has managed to cover a wide number of cities in that way, with some having better coverage than others. But it has focused solely on high-band mmWave 5G rather than low-band.
Where will this appear first?
Exactly when this rollout is set to commence remains unclear. Verizon is quick to point out the benefits of running both LTE and 5G NR services simultaneously over the low band spectrum. But it isn't detailing where or when any given region of the US will see the service turned on.