A report published by EJL Wireless Research has found several issues with Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband (UWB) network. The research firm conducted the analysis across two cities in California – San Diego and Chula Vista.
The report was generated based on an independent field study conducted by EJL Wireless Research. The team evaluated the download and upload speeds across 74 5G UWB small cell sites in the two California cities. Researchers conducted the test using a 5G mmWave compatible smartphone.
The team found that even the slightest movement quickly downgraded the 5G UWB network to the carrier’s 5G Nationwide networks. This is despite the device being pointed directly at the cell site. Moreover, researchers claim that many regions where Verizon promotes 5G UWB could not connect to the network at all.
So what’s to blame for these shortcomings?
The research team blamed the limitations of the 5G UWB technology plus the limited number of small cell sites for the unreliability of the network. 5G UWB reportedly loses its strength even with minimal obstructions like trees or houses.
Crucially, the study found that 5G UWB couldn’t automatically reconnect after being downgraded or losing connectivity. By comparison, 5G Nationwide and 4G LTE networks see their signal strength diminish only when devices are far away from the small cell site.
“The promise of 5G UWB is misleading without a much more significant concentration of small cell sites in order for the network to navigate around homes, office buildings, and all kinds of existing infrastructure,” said Earl Lum, author of the study and founder of EJL Wireless Research.
“Our research and analysis indicates that most Verizon mobile customers will end up falling back on the 4G LTE or 5G Nationwide networks, and any claim that 5G UWB is reliably available would be misleading. It can be difficult for the public to unpack the technical fine print.”
Researchers also noted concerns with Verizon’s 5G UWB Home service
The report notes Verizon’s disclaimer saying that 4G LTE will act as an alternative to the carrier’s 5G UWB Home service. This is despite a significant gap between the download/upload speeds of 5G UWB Home and 4G LTE.
Verizon only had permits for 769 small cell sites across San Diego as of November 2021. This is significantly below the recommended 10,000 small cell sites for a city the size of San Diego.
It’s clear that Verizon has a lot of work to do with its high-speed 5G network. These two California cities make up for a small portion of the carrier’s 5G UWB network. But the report gives us a good idea about the performance of Verizon’s 5G network in everyday situations.