Verizon Business hooks up with Virginia port for private 5G

Verizon Business struck an agreement with Virginia International Terminals (VIT) to build a private 5G Ultra Wideband network at one of The Port of Virginia’s main container terminals.

It’s the second deal Verizon has done with a major international port and it’s the first with a U.S.-based terminal. Earlier this year, Verizon Business announced a deal with Associated British Ports in the U.K. to deploy a private 5G network using Nokia gear.

In the case of the Virginia port, the sole vendor is Ericsson*, according to a Verizon spokesperson. The deployment uses Verizon licensed spectrum.


VIT is a privately held terminal operating company that is owned by the Virginia Port Authority, which is an agency of the state of Virginia. The 5G private network deployment site is scalable and gives VIT the ability to replace Wi-Fi with a private 5G network across its Virginia International Gateway facility, a 275-acre marine terminal, according to a Verizon press release.

“Seaports provide some of the best possible examples of the power of private 5G, with uses spanning autonomous vehicles, connected heavy equipment, and secure, real-time tracking and logistics, among many others,” said Sowmyanarayan Sampath, CEO of Verizon Business, in a statement. “That’s why On Site 5G is ideal for innovative partners like Virginia International Terminals. It puts a wide range of 5G capabilities on offer, from data-intensive, high-bandwidth industrial needs to secure, reliable broadband for everyday business.”

Rich Ceci, SVP of Technology and Projects at VIT, said Verizon’s On Site 5G private network is right for VIT because it’s flexible, scalable and powerful enough for both industrial outdoor use and office broadband.

“The development of autonomous vehicles technology applied to over-the-road trucks has significant environmental impacts, and addresses a major shortfall of truck drivers that is currently plaguing the transportation industry. We view Verizon as the premier 5G supplier in the market and are excited to be working with them,” Ceci said in a statement.

VIT handled 2 million containers and accounted for about $47 billion in gross product for the state in the recently closed fiscal year, the press release notes.

VIT received a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to create a proof-of-concept for autonomous over-the-road trucks. An autonomous over-the-road truck operates on public streets the same way any licensed truck on the road can operate, but it's designated as such to distinguish it from, say, a bot or smaller vehicle on a confined path.

Verizon describes On Site 5G as a secure non-standalone private network that combines 5G Ultra Wideband small cells – which presumably are using millimeter wave spectrum in this case –  with an LTE packet core and supporting radios, providing compatibility with a range of both LTE and 5G devices.

As 5G technology and capabilities advance and evolve, On Site 5G can be used to take advantage of developments in technologies such as IoT, AI/ML, AR/VR, real-time edge compute and more, the carrier said.

*Story updated July 21 to reflect Ericsson as the sole vendor. A previous version identified Corning a vendor as well, but a Verizon spokesperson later corrected that and said it's just Ericsson.