Verizon is testing indoor 5G millimeter wave cell sites with Corning and Samsung, and plans to start deploying a commercial product later this year.
Corning’s commercial in-building mmWave solution will be out by the end of 2020, with Samsung to follow at a to-be-determined date, according to a Verizon spokesperson.
Verizon said it picked indoor mmWave products from Corning and Samsung after an industry-wide request for proposal (RFP). The spokesperson didn’t disclose whether Ericsson or Nokia participated in the RFP.
Earlier this month Samsung scored a five-year $6.65 billion 5G contract with Verizon.
Lab trials of the indoor tech over 28 GHz spectrum recently wrapped up with Corning at a test facility in Westlake, Texas and are now underway with Samsung. Corning has started field testing with Verizon in a live network environment, taking place in various places across the country. Samsung will do the same once its work in the lab proves successful.
Verizon called out two main uses for launching 5G mmWave small cell systems indoors: extending the reach of its 5G Ultra Wideband network (which currently doesn’t deliver indoor coverage because high-band millimeter wave signals are easily blocked and don’t penetrate well) and advancing private wireless networks for enterprise users.
Once they’re commercially deployed, the indoor small cells will deliver 5G coverage for healthcare, manufacturing, education, and retail environments, among other applications.
In terms of extending signals of its its high-band mmWave 5G, Verizon’s also partnered with companies Pivotal Communications and Movandi, tapping their respective mmWave 5G extender tech amplify coverage both outdoors and in-building.
Corning, meanwhile, as an established player in the indoor wireless and enterprise space has been taking strides to keep pace on 5G. In February, the company announced an indoor 5G mmWave system that included Qualcomm 5G small cell chipsets and software, its FSM100xx 5G RAN platform and Corning’s virtualized RAN architecture. Fierce couldn’t immediately confirm whether Verizon is testing the same system.
In an earlier interview with Fierce, Corning VP Michelle Engarto said its indoor 5G mmWave system would have limited availability at the end of 2020, with full commercial availability in 2021. Corning also has worked with Intel on sub-6 GHz indoor solutions for 5G.
The indoor mmWave systems from Corning and Samsung that Verizon is testing are similar to those used for dedicated indoor 4G LTE coverage, but have a smaller footprint and operate at lower power, according to the carrier.
Corning’s enterprise cellular offerings are designed to be installed easily and use composite fiber that includes both fiber for data transmission and copper for powering in one cable. Verizon said Samsung’s indoor small cells are compact and discrete, and can deliver high-throughput and lower-latency service levels to support 5G requirements of Verizon enterprise customers.
Carriers and vendors have pointed to private enterprise networks, for both LTE and 5G, as more secure and reliable, and a way to address new applications.
Nokia, for example, has more than 180 private wireless customers, with 20% using 5G. Nokia has been public about going to enterprises directly, rather than always through a carrier partner.
For Verizon, private 5G networks would be enabled by the carrier’s Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) capabilities like low-latency, alongside a dedicated private core and indoor small cell technologies like those being tested with Corning and Samsung. In addition to the high-capacity 28 GHz spectrum Verizon currently uses for 5G, the carrier also has a significant amount of mmWave in the 39 GHz band.
With a private 5G network, Verizon said data travels faster because it doesn’t have to cross across multiple routers and wide geographies. There’s also a dedicated core network, eliminating the need to share core resources with a carrier’s macro network and providing more security since data stays on-site.
“By combining a private core, an indoor cell site and the MEC platform in a facility, an enterprise can have a private and secure ultra-reliable, high-speed, low-latency 5G network,” said Adam Koeppe, SVP of Technology Planning and Development at Verizon in statement. “A private 5G network will offer customers the potential to have the cloud within their facility. It will accelerate enterprise automation and digitization efforts, and with Verizon’s mmWave bandwidth and reliability, it will offer the scalability to manage massive numbers of devices along with advanced capabilities such as Edge AI, computer vision and other emerging technologies.”