Verizon gets OK for more C-band tests

Boston
Plans call for testing both indoors and outdoors. (Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently granted Verizon approval to conduct more C-band tests in multiple markets across the U.S.

Verizon last month had applied for experimental short-term authorization (STAs) to conduct 3.7-3.8 GHz tests in portions of Boston and Dallas, as well as other markets in the Northeast, Texas and Southern California. One of the STAs includes Jackson, South Dakota. The FCC granted the applications about a week ago.

Verizon explained that the 100 MHz sought under the STAs is a subset of the recently auctioned C-band spectrum and ultimately will be part of Verizon’s post-clearing assignments. The STA grants are due to expire in nine months.

The applications don’t specify the vendors and list “various” transmitters and handset manufacturers as participants. The products are described as experimental.

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Testing, which will occur both outdoors and indoors, includes fixed base stations and mobile terminals that will use directional, beamforming antennas, according to the application materials. The antennas will be mounted in the same orientation as existing antennas used by Verizon, with the exception of the location in Jackson, South Dakota, where two additional azimuths are being tested.

The operator also noted that the South Dakota and one California sites will be tested at the highest available transmit power; these sites were specifically selected due to their extreme distance to the nearest earth stations – a distance that should allow them to perform tests without interfering with satellite earth stations.

Verizon has been conducting C-band tests for a while now. Verizon VP of Technology Development and Planning Bill Stone recently told Fierce that besides outdoor solutions, the company fully intends to have in-building solutions, and it has vendors lined up to supply products for that very purpose.

RELATED: Verizon defends C-band plans

Verizon spent more than $45 billion, before clearing and incentive payments are factored in, on C-band spectrum in the auction that concluded in February. The carrier secured an average of 161 MHz nationwide, including 60 MHz of A block spectrum that covers 46 markets; that’s expected to be available at the end of this year. The rest will come by the end of 2023, when the second phase of moving existing satellite operations is finalized.

Verizon aims to cover 100 million people with C-band within a year, and 250 million by 2024. AT&T also is deploying C-band spectrum that it acquired in the auction, with plans to begin deploying the first 40 MHz by the end of 2021. The majority of deployment will occur in the 2022-2024 timeframe. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is in the lead, on track to reach 200 million with 2.5 GHz mid-band 5G by the end of this year.