Verizon President of Global Networks and Technology Joe Russo, said today that Verizon perhaps doesn’t talk about it that much, but the company does manage its network capacity on a sector-by-sector basis, which has become especially important with the rollout of its fixed wireless access (FWA) service.
T-Mobile has been very transparent about managing its network capacity on a sector-by-sector basis in areas where it introduces FWA – to make sure that FWA doesn’t in any way degrade the experience of T-Mobile’s regular mobile customers.
But Verizon has only said that it’s always managing the capacity needs on its mobile network, without getting into specifics.
Speaking today at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media and Telecom Summit, Russo said, “When we started deploying 5G Ultra Wideband, even with mmWave, it became very apparent we had to get really good at managing a radio access network that was now going to be multi-purpose.”
He said multi-purpose first meant dealing with low-end uses related to IoT. But FWA requires a lot more capacity management. “We’ve done a lot in our organization to build capacity management tools and models that allow us to manage the RAN in a new way,” said Russo. He said FWA usage peaks at different times of the day than mobility usage, so Verizon has developed “sophisticated models” that maximize spectral efficiency. “Every single sector is different, and we manage it differently based on the RF conditions, the user profiles, etc.”
Asked about its FWA plans in general, he reiterated that Verizon is targeting around 350,000-400,000 net adds per quarter. “We think we have a long runway to continue that level of performance each quarter,” said Russo. “As we use the spectrum we’ve already deployed and start to expand into new markets, we think that trajectory lines up with my build plans and our capital envelope.”
C-Band and mmWave
Verizon recently said it’s covering 230 million PoPs with its Ultra Wideband network, which uses both mmWave and mid-band spectrum. Russo said, “I suspect in the next couple of quarters we’ll blow past the 250 million PoPs covered. But we’ll do that in a way that our customers see the difference in performance and reliability. We started in the dense metro areas in the top 46 PEAS, we quickly moved to the next 76 PEAS, and now that we have access to all 406, we’re starting to spread that C-band build out into the suburban and rural areas.”
Verizon was an early proponent of mmWave spectrum and has deployed more of it than any other carrier in the U.S. Russo said, “We love our mmWave spectrum. We’re using it in new and different ways. It’s a great tool to handle capacity and to allow customers to do things they could never do before in certain areas.” He said the carrier is starting to use it in outdoor locations such as beaches, open air venues and in downtown urban areas. “If you’ve been to a Taylor Swift concert, they want to stream that experience, and you couldn’t do that in a 4G world. We’ve unlocked that capability in venues with mmWave.”
Russo was asked whether Verizon will further densify its network with small cells. He said, Verizon is focused on macro deployments of C-band. “That is our primary focus for our capital dollars,” he said. “I’m not sure if beyond that I see a real need to further densify. It’s a watch and see to some extent. It’s what type of new use cases both in the enterprise or the consumer that require some form of a network upgrade that would require densification.”