A few months after Verizon announced it would use indoor mmWave 5G cell sites from Corning, the pair recently started the first commercial installations at certain retail stores, and separately signed up WeWork.
WeWork, a company offering co-working and flexible workspace, signed a deal with Verizon Business to deploy in-building 5G sites from and Corning across 10 locations in the U.S. Those sites are located in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Seattle. The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2021, according to a WeWork spokesperson.
As for additional sites beyond the 10, “yes, we expect to eventually expand this technology across our spaces,” the spokesperson said via email.
Globally, WeWork has more 784 "open & coming soon" locations, with sites in 40 cities in North America alone.
Verizon said it already started the first commercial installments of Corning’s mmWave 5G cells in the carrier’s retail stores. It’s unclear how many stores are involved in the initial deployment.
The indoor 5G sites are paving the way for private 5G networks for enterprises.
In a recent interview with FierceWireless, Verizon SVP Adam Koeppe separately noted that on-site 5G edge compute goes “hand-in-hand with private networks," something he said has been “a huge request from the enterprise community” largely fed up with Wi-Fi.
Enterprises are coming to Verizon, he said, and “want a private network at their location with 4G, 5G connectivity, core functions and edge compute infrastructure that allows them to do really low-latency solutions on their campus or in their plant.”
Whether WeWork will also use on-site 5G edge compute and core components from Verizon remains to be seen, but WeWork confirmed that the pair are continuing discussions on additional locations and technologies.
Verizon partnered with Microsoft to integrate Azure into its private network 5G edge platform and to come up with solutions that rely on localized or enterprise-specific edge compute. On-site testing has happened, including with logistics and supply chain solutions company Ice Mobility.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg last week made the distinction between opportunities for enterprise applications with on-site 5G mobile edge compute, and public use-cases through the carrier’s partnership with AWS.
In terms of the timeline for a commercialized private 5G edge platform, Koeppe said stay tuned, noting Verizon just went through a series of internal lab efforts to certify that type of private MEC solution.
As for how private networks will play out, he said it will involve enterprise verticals around the globe with both domestic and international deployments.
“The beauty of a private network when you have a whole virtualized environment that you’re working in, is we can really custom tailor those private network solutions specifically to the enterprise and the vertical they fit in,” he said, noting needs vary from logistics, to healthcare, to utilities and so on.
The announcement for in-building 5G sites at the co-working space means WeWork members have full network coverage throughout the selected sites, either via its own private network or Verizon’s macro network.
“Verizon’s 5G network will provide our members with future scalability, allowing them to increase the number of devices they can use, lower latency, and faster network speeds,” WeWork said.
When it comes to the indoor mmWave 5G sites from Corning – that went from proof-of-concept to commercial availability quickly and they’re the compatible solution for private 5G, alongside edge and core components.
Corning’s 5G enterprise radio access network (RAN) system includes a central unit (CU) and radio nodes that can be mounted on ceilings or walls to provide 5G coverage inside.
They are connected via 10Gig Ethernet using Corning’s ActiFi composite cabling.
Verizon also plans to use Samsung’s in-building mmWave sites, which moved from lab testing to the field earlier this year. Samsung is on a similar timeline for commercial deployment as Corning, and in-building solutions from both will be deployed in Verizon’s network in early 2021.