Verizon and its partners Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies are tooting their collective horn over a proof-of-concept demonstration they conducted using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which allows 5G service to run on multiple spectrum bands, including those historically reserved for LTE services.
The demo, which was carried out in Ericsson’s lab in Richardson, Texas, involved an over-the-air DSS 5G data call using Ericsson’s Spectrum Sharing solution, which enables the sharing of spectrum between 4G and 5G carriers based on traffic demand.
According to the companies, the switch between carriers happens within milliseconds, which minimizes spectrum waste and allows for best end-user performance. It is compatible with all 5G FDD capable smartphones and other devices based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 5G Mobile Platform with the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, supporting the standardized spectrum sharing functionality.
Verizon has said it plans to deploy DSS next year, leveraging the technology inside stadiums and entertainment arenas. It’s not changing its strategy of focusing on millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for 5G, which gives it the ability to tap into massive capacity, but with DSS, when customers move outside Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area, their 5G-enabled devices will remain on 5G technology using lower bands of spectrum.
“We will continue to focus on providing 5G over millimeter wave – especially in high density areas like airports, stadiums and urban areas – in order to continue to deliver the unique experience customers associate with 5G and that are only possible on mmWave technology,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice president of Network Planning for Verizon, in a press release. “However, with Dynamic Spectrum Sharing we will be able to supplement mmWave deployments and accelerate the deployment of 5G in low and mid band spectrum for customers as we continue to build out our Ultra Wideband network.”
Most experts agree 5G will require low-, mid- and high-band spectrum to meet its promises, but Verizon particularly is lacking mid-band spectrum, which other countries around the world are using for 5G.
Mid-band spectrum sources
In a note to investors Tuesday, Wells Fargo Securities analysts said they hosted a lunch in New York City on Monday with an unnamed Washington, D.C.-based telecom regulatory attorney who has done a lot of work in the satellite space. Their contact indicated the next thing to watch for in terms of C-band spectrum – one of the most likely sources for 5G mid-band spectrum in the U.S. – will be in early January, when the agenda for the FCC’s January 30 meeting is released.
Last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he’s seeking a public auction for 280 megahertz of C-band spectrum and that the FCC has the wherewithal to commence that auction before the end of 2020. The C-Band Alliance (CBA) had argued that it could get the spectrum released and into the hands of carriers faster through a privately-run auction, a proposal that Verizon had backed (PDF). That said, by Nov. 18 (PDF), when Pai made his announcement, Verizon was urging the FCC to quickly conclude its C-band proceeding, whether it ultimately decided to pursue a private or public auction for C-band.
“We believe this delay is an unexpected curveball for VZ,” wrote Wells Fargo senior analyst Jennifer Fritzsche in the investment note. “There has been some speculation that VZ’s lobbyists are lobbying for a budget rider that could speed up the FCC auction process and resolve the difficult issues around who gets what capital that is raised in the auction. Speculation in DC is VZ wanted as much as 200 MHz of the 280 MHz which were planned to be auctioned.”
The delay actually may be somewhat of a positive for the likes of U.S. Cellular, AT&T and T-Mobile, all for separate reasons, she said. Unlike Verizon, AT&T has “more diversity of spectrum bands (including midband through its purchase of WCS spectrum in 2010-12). Having the three layers of the spectrum ‘wedding cake’ – low, mid and high band spectrum – it is well prepared in the 5G spectrum landscape (even before C-Band comes!),” Fritzsche wrote.