As the wireless infrastructure industry builds the backbone of tomorrow’s 5G networks, startups and universities are developing ways to take advantage of high data speeds and low latency.
Verizon has shared some of the action going on at its 5G incubator in New York City, using technologies such as augmented reality (AR). Students at NYU’s Future Reality Lab are using Verizon’s pre-commercial 5G technology to develop ChalkTalk, an open source AR learning tool that renders multimedia objects in 3D.
High speed wireless data and low latency required to facilitate interactive, real-time educational content in a mobile environment, allowing students and instructor to share and respond to that content as if they were in the same location when, in fact, they could be miles apart.
Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said extensive testing has given the carrier confidence in the role of millimeter waves in its fixed 5G deployment during an interview with David Faber on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” last week.
“We had 11 markets up last year in testing with hundreds of cell sites proving that millimeter wave is an outstanding set of spectrum for this,” McAdam said. “So we have been plowing money into this within our capital budget for the last three years and we’re going to be commercial.”
The comments came in response to criticism by T-Mobile head John Legere, who claimed that the propagation of the millimeter band is so limited that Verizon would need an unsustainable number of antennas. McAdams said Verizon was disproving popular myths about millimeter wave and suggested that statements that an antenna must be with in 200 feet of a house might be driven by competitive jealousy.
“We tested for more than a year, so we could see every part of foliage, every storm that went through, and we have busted the myth that it has to be line of sight,” McAdams said. “We’re now designing the network for over 2,000 feet from transmitter to receiver, which has a huge impact on our capital need going forward.”
Verizon just added Los Angeles as its second fixed non-standalone 5G last week, McAdam announced on the CNBC show, joining Sacrament. By the end of the year the carrier is expected to have four markets using fixed non-standalone 5G. (Hint: Boston and Washington DC are two of its best markets)
“We’ll literally have more than 1,000 cell sites up and operating on the global [non-standalone] standard. We’ve got CPE [customer premise equipment] for fixed wireless applications in the intelligent home with home appliances and broadband, Alexa, Siri, and things like that,”
When mobile devices come available, Verizon plans to quickly move into a mobile environment. “The beauty of how we’re architecting our network is that it’s a multipurpose network,” McAdam said. “So, whether we offer fixed wireless or mobile or enterprise service, it doesn’t matter. That allows us to drive our costs down and serve more customers.”
McAdam said Verizon’s accumulate assets, including 36 million miles of fiber and spectrum from XO Communications and Straight Path Communications, allow it to offer “ultrawideband 5G.”
“So we will literally have hundreds of megahertz of bandwidth to deliver a full suite of services of 5G,” he said, “with improved latency and throughput and the literally thousands of times the capacity of 5G … for about 1/10thof what 4G costs today.”
Additionally, McAdams refuted recent reports that the United States trails China in 5G development.
“I can’t say where [China is] in their process, but this is a three-year journey for us,” he said. “We started with global standards. We worked with the other carriers around the world and the equipment suppliers, like Ericsson and Nokia and Samsung. And so I’m not sure what is not happening in the market, but I think China is working hard to stay with up us.”
This article originally ran in Network Builder Reports.
Verizon says its CBRS small cells will be smaller and lighter than those it has deployed in other spectrum bands. The carrier plans to supplement its outdoor small cell network with CBRS small cells, and says the new equipment may be easier to permit and install than existing hardware.
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is expected to launch later this year, when the Federal Communications Commission allows wireless network operators to transmit in the spectrum bands between 3550 and 3700 GHz. Operators will be able to use part of this spectrum without paying for a license, but they will have to pay for software that assigns frequency bands and prevents interference.
Verizon says its first use of this spectrum will be to offload network traffic from other spectrum bands. For that it will need outdoor CBRS small cells, and smartphones that can send and receive in the CBRS bands.
Bill Stone, Verizon’s VP for technology development and planning, described the CBRS small cells that Verizon is testing as “a good product for mounting and concealing on poles.” He said he never likes to underestimate the challenges of site acquisition, but he is encouraged by the fact that the CBRS small cells are more compact and less powerful than the small cells Verizon is deploying for lower spectrum bands. Equipment size, weight and power output are usually important to the jurisdictions that issue permits to companies that deploy wireless access points in public spaces.
Stone said the CBRS small cells will include the radio and antenna in one form factor. The baseband processor can also be integrated into the same hardware, but Stone said that he expects most deployments to use a separate baseband unit. He said the BBU can be mounted at the base of a pole or tower, or even further away.
Verizon has not yet released pictures of the new small cells, but it has been testing outdoor small cells made by both Ericsson and Nokia.
Nokia’s FlexiZone multiband outdoor base transceiver station is currently part of Verizon’s CBRS tests in Irving, Texas. The BTS pairs with Nokia’s TD-LTE CBRS RF module, which has a maximum RF power output of 4 watts (2 watts at each transmit port output.)
At the same site, Ericsson is testing a system that aggregates its outdoor and indoor CBRS small cells. The solution uses 4×4 multiple-input, multiple-output antenna elements and 4×20 megahertz carrier aggregation.
Stone said the first deployments are likely to be in areas with relatively high network traffic. He said the network will be capable of moving smartphones onto the CBRS spectrum when they come within range of the small cells, if the phones include CBRS modems.
The CBRS small cells won’t be able to help the network much until a significant number of people upgrade to smartphones that have CBRS modems. Verizon has said it will add these phones to its line-up this year, but hasn’t said which phones those will be.
“3.5 GHz CBRS: Disrupting the Disruptive Spectrum” is a report available through Network Builder Reports that profiles more than 30 CBRS vendors and projects installed CBRS nodes through 2022. It also explains spectrum sharing, mobile network architecture, and CBRS business models. CLICK HERE to order a copy.
Martha DeGrasse is the Publisher of Network Builder Reports. She has worked in business news media for 16 years, most recently as an editor for RCR Wireless News. She is the author of 20 in-depth reports and 2,500 articles on telecom companies and wireless technologies. Follower her on Twitter : @mardegrasse
Samsung Electronics America has been selected by Verizon to assist in advancing their 4G LTE Open RAN initiative. With this collaboration, both companies are working to increase network efficiencies, advance inter-carrier interoperability, and prepare a path for virtualized RAN and 5G commercialization.
Samsung will supply Verizon with equipment including Remote Radio Heads (RRHs) and Baseband Units (BBUs). These key network elements will also support Verizon’s Open RAN initiative by allowing the ability to interwork with other ecosystem providers. All supporting equipment will continue to enable Verizon’s LTE Advanced capabilities as well as current CAT-M and future Narrow Band IoT platforms.
“We are committed to offering our customers a best-in-class network experience through enabling new technology partnerships in an open network ecosystem,” said Ed Chan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Architect, Corporate Network & Technology, Verizon.
“Samsung is excited to support Verizon as they advance their 4G LTE network and build the next generation of wireless networks,” said Mark Louison, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America. “It’s imperative that we as an industry continue to engineer networks, so we can deliver unprecedented, enhanced user experiences as technologies evolve.”
Samsung Networks has been a provider of Verizon femto cells for many years. This latest agreement expands the companies’ relationship to include larger scale 4G LTE Macro gear. This includes incorporating the next generation of Samsung Baseband Units and Remote Radio Heads, with planned deployment in 2018.
The Internet of Things entered a new period of growth in the last year in the enterprise market, as companies moved from the testing stage to full deployment, according to Mark Bartolomeo, Vice President, Connected Solutions – Internet of Things, Verizon.
Bartolomeo gave a keynote at the HetNet EXPO in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he addressed the recently released report, “State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017.”
“I have been waiting 15 years to actually write in the report that we are making progress in the adoption of IoT,” said Bartolomeo. “It is something that we have been looking at for many, many years and working through the issues of standards, security, interoperability and cost.”
Manufacturing grew 84 percent, utilities/energy grew 41 percent, transportation grew 40 percent, smart cities grew 19 percent and healthcare grew 11 percent, according to year-over-year Verizon IoT network connections from 2016 to 2017.
“The reason enterprises are moving from their early adopter phase to full deployment is they have a proven business,” he said. “With the improved business cases, we are seeing the small and medium size enterprise begin to deploy.”
Regulatory compliance is a major factor driving IoT. The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act requires pharmaceutical firms to track the shipments of it drugs.
“Big wireless deployments are underway in the transportation industry to track and trace pharmaceuticals globally to eliminate the $75 billion annual counterfeit drug trade,” Bartolomeo said.
Smart grid technology is moving from the urban centers to rural areas with gas and electric coops deploying 300 million meters to improve their smart energy systems over the next ten years, according to Bartolomeo. For example, Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Peninsula Light Company have deployed Verizon’s Grid Wide Utility Solutions, which is an intelligent energy platform.
Even with movement forward, the IoT industry still must overcome certain barriers. For one, the supplier ecosystem is too fragmented.
“How do we align our suppliers?” Bartolomeo said. “The reason IoT was slow to be adopted for smart grid was that the user had to acquire a meter from one company, communications cards from another and a wireless network from another and also hire systems integrators.”
Additionally, security, which is now a number one concern in the public, has been treated as an afterthought in IoT. “There are not enough standards concerning security,” he said. “In the future, artificial intelligence will be used to monitor the devices looking for security issues.”
The other issue that IoT has had is the cost was too high. However, costs have already dropped due to the deployment of CAT-M technology and the virtualization of the core network. For example, tracking the location and temperature of vaccines for a pharmaceutical company used to require a $300 device. That has now dropped in price below $50. Next year it will get down below $30.
“For IoT to grow, we need to be able to track everything, but today’s economics don’t allow that to occur. We are getting there very quickly. Also we are seeing improvements in battery life,” Bartolomeo said.
Another key is standardization. IoT platforms must be able to support heterogeneous networks, all network topologies, all wireless spectrum, whether it is public and private, according to Bartolomeo. Verizon has been very involved in accelerating adoption of 5G IoT standards.
He was confident that the IoT industry can continue its upward. “Lowering the cost will expand the addressable market, a common platform will bring flexible pricing and the ability to monitor a device over any network topology, and security will bring in a lot of companies that were holding back,” he said.