Verizon, Samsung claim 5G C-band milestone

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US multiplay telco Verizon and Samsung Electronics have completed an end-to-end fully virtualised 5G data session over C-band spectrum in a live network environment. The new milestone was reached in preparation for Verizon’s upcoming 5G Ultra Wideband expansion using its newly-acquired C-band spectrum.

“We have been driving the industry to large scale virtualisation using the advanced architecture we have built into our network from the core to the far edge,” explained Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Technology Planning at Verizon. “This recent accomplishment paves the way for a more programmable, efficient, and scalable 5G network,” “Customers deserve more than mere access to 5G. They deserve 5G built with the highest, gold-standard engineering practices that have positioned Verizon as the most reliable industry leader for years.”

The trials, conducted over Verizon’s network (using C-band Special Temporary Authority granted to Verizon by the FCC) in Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts, used Samsung’s fully virtualised RAN (vRAN) solution built on its own software stack and C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radio in coordination with Verizon’s virtualised core. The trials achieved speeds commensurate with traditional hardware-based equipment.

According to Verizon, virtualisation is critical to delivering the services promised by advanced 5G networks. Key 5G use cases such as massive scale IOT solutions, more robust consumer devices and solutions, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous robotics in manufacturing environments, and ubiquitous smart city solutions, will heavily rely on the programmability of virtualised networks.

Cloud native virtualised architecture leads to greater flexibility, faster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency in networks, paving the way for wide-scale mobile edge computing and network slicing. This technology enables Verizon to respond rapidly to customers’ varied latency and computing needs. Virtualisation will also lower the barrier to entry for new vendors in the ecosystem. New entrants will accelerate innovation, reduce operating costs, and lay the groundwork for flexible network and cloud infrastructure closer to the customer, eventually leading to single digit millisecond latency.

“We’re proud to mark another milestone following our first large-scale commercial 5G vRAN deployment for Verizon, which is currently servicing millions of users,” declared Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “This trial reinforces our commitment to helping operators evolve their advanced 5G networks. This achievement represents our dedicated efforts in leading the transition to virtualisation, and helping Verizon realise greater efficiency, scalability and flexibility. vRAN is a powerful enabler for network transformation, and we aim to continue leading this journey.”

Massive MIMO is an evolution in antenna arrays that uses a high number of transmitters which enables more possible signal paths between a device and a cell tower. It also reduces interference through beamforming, which directs the beam from the cell site directly to where the customer is resulting in higher and more consistent speeds for customers using apps and uploading and downloading files. This trial used Samsung’s C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radios that support digital/dynamic beamforming, SU-MIMO, MU-MIMO and dual connectivity and carrier aggregation.

“Incorporating full, cloud-native virtualisation, Massive MIMO and beamforming into our network design and deployment will result in so much more than our customers merely seeing a 5G icon on their devices. This is 5G service optimised for peak performance,” asserted Koeppe.

The milestone follows Samsung’s recent announcement on expanding its vRAN capability to support mid-band Massive MIMO radios—a first for the industry. Samsung’s C-band Massive MIMO radio is part of a complete C-band solutions portfolio.

This virtualisation work comes on the heels of other work to speed the expansion of 5G Ultra Wideband service using C-band spectrum including:

  • successful trials integrating C-band with mmWave licensed spectrum,
  • securing new agreements with Verizon’s tower partners, Crown and SBA Communications, which provide for process improvements including standardising and reducing forms and minimising legal reviews, and
  • installation of C-band equipment from Ericsson and Samsung Electronics Co.

These combined efforts, along with ongoing lab and field trials to optimise 5G technology on C-band spectrum will allow Verizon to offer expanded mobility and broadband services to millions more consumers and businesses as soon as the spectrum is cleared.

In the first quarter of 2022, Verizon expects to put into service the new 5G C-band spectrum in the initial 46 markets and to provide 5G Ultra Wideband service to 100 million people. Over 2022 and 2023, coverage is expected to increase to more than 175 million people and by 2024 and beyond, when the remaining C-band spectrum is cleared, more than 250 million people are expected to have access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service on C-band spectrum.


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