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Verizon 1st on 5G Bandwagon - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint to follow

Sep 12, 2018

Verizon 1st on 5G Bandwagon - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint to follow

If you wondered which USA carrier will get on the broadband 5G bandwagon first, it has been confirmed that Verizon has reached and boarded the 5G bandwagon before the rest. Dubbed as, "Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband", it claims to be the best 5G has to offer, even in comparison to what they say other carriers can, or will offer. Its 5G service will go live in October 2018 within select markets that include parts of Houston, Texas. The rest of the major carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint are not too far behind though - All estimated to go live later in 2018 or early 2019, in select markets. The following is an advanced discussion to explore 5G which follows the 5G Basics we had discussed in the past, earlier this year.

Various types of 5G and 5G Frequencies.

FCC has increased the capacity of its 60 GHz band (the band usually associated with WiGig) while introducing three new licensed millimetre-wave bands for fast transmission - 26 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz. The frequencies in the sub-millimeter wave, particularly the 3.5 GHz band, will also be available for 5G New Radio (5G NR). Indeed, AT&T is currently trialling the 15 GHz band before fully making the switch to 28 GHz, while T-Mobile is making noises about the 600 MHz band.

With each band comes a set of advantages and disadvantages, both in terms of capacity and range. While the 60 GHz band provides reduced handset power consumption, it allows an impressive 14 GHz bandwidth and super fast transmissions, thereby reducing the necessity for high-order modulation and MIMO. While Verizon is already making good use of the 28 GHz band, 5G will be trialled by AT&T in two AT&T cities and 11 Verizon cities, allowing for fixed wireless connectivity. Trials are underway on the 39 GHz band.

Understanding millimeter wave technology.

Today, almost everything we do on our devices from downloading music to uploading videos and pictures, and from movie and TV streaming to FaceTiming - demands a fast network and reliable coverage. Our devices are increasingly coming online (exactly what the IoT movement predicted) and our always-connected home routers, tablets, and smartphones are vying for bandwidth. It comes as little surprise that carriers are working with no less than 5G, well aware that nothing less will suffice in our ultra-connected world. Verizon is breaking new ground in its millimeter wave frequencies investment for its 5G network and is the first carrier in the country to deliver this tailor-made solution to residential broadband users starting October this year.

Understanding the millimeter wave spectrum.

When seeking to understand the millimeter wave spectrum, consider a superhighway with fleets of vehicles moving massive amounts of data at unrestricted speeds in all directions. Now, instead of a handful of narrow lanes on that imaginary superhighway, picture tens of thousands of lanes, each more enormous than you have ever seen in real life. This is the vision Verizon has for its 5G offering, and this is how it remains so confident that its customers will see a noticeable difference in the speed it will offer than its competition.

Compared to 4G LTE technology, which makes use of the lower frequency spectrum under 1 GHz in its data delivery, 5G technology works in a massively different way and seeks to reimagine the way in which data flows. The introduction of 4G LTE itself changed the way people communicated, consumed media, and even called their next ride with a press of a button.

4G-LTE was revolutionary for society's needs at the time, but those needs have changed as technology continues to evolve - and our expectations along with it. As consumers, we're more reliable on our digital devices than ever before, and new technology continues to place an even heavier demand on data and connectivity, from real-time design software to virtual reality. A fundamental change in data flow is needed, and the 5G network is designed to be just that.

The 5G network offered by Verizon will be based on frequencies in the millimeter wave spectrum - more specifically, the 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequencies. These are the frequencies that have the ability to move massive amounts of data at unheard-of speeds, without significant lag or latency. For this reason, the 5G network is the ideal solution to cater for cloud-connected devices, IoT sensors, self-driving vehicles, gaming systems connected to the cloud, virtual reality devices, and connected homes. The race for 5G is on, and Verizon's millimeter wave technology investments put them a giant leap forward in providing business and household customers alike with the data speeds they are crying out for.

Verizon has opened orders for their first residential wireless broadband 5G offerings, laying claim to the first launch of its kind in history of this country. The Verizon 5G Home service is aimed at those who dream of cutting the cord, and will start rolling out in selected areas first, with a go-live date of October 1. Ultra Wideband 5G service connectivity orders are being accepted for parts of Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Los Angeles, California; and Sacramento, California.

Verizon claims that their new 5G service will offer peak speeds of up to 1 Gbps, with average speeds of 300 Mbps. Following Verizon's launch Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T will follow suit, offering a similar service probably later in 2018 or most likely in early 2019.

Will signal boosters be needed to enjoy 5G coverage?

In a nutshell, yes. Just like when 4G was launched, in-building wireless coverage was better than 3G - Wherever 4G coverage existed. Due to factors such as building construction materials, topography such as hills and valleys, cell tower proximity, etc., 4G coverage is weak or non-existent inside many houses and buildings. Therefore, cell phone signal boosters have been very useful for many that encounter in-building or in-vehicle 4G LTE mobile service coverage problems. Similarly, while the 5G wireless data transfer speeds will be phenomenal, and 5G voice when it arrives will be like talking face to face, the coverage will not be consistent everywhere across the country due to same factors stated above, and more.

In fact, transmitters or towers for this new 5G technology will need to be even more closer together to provide that extreme 5G coverage. Furthermore, 5G frequencies such as 28 GHz are more prone to getting blocked by building construction materials. While 5G phones will fallback to 4G coverage mode when no 5G signal is detected (just like 4G defaults to 3G when no 4G signal detected) for current 4G signal boosters to help out, 5G phones will surely benefit from 5G signal boosters that will help them stay connected to 5G network to enjoy its benefits. Lastly, the vastness of United States and Canada will make it a challenge for carriers to provide seamless 5G coverage without help of signal boosters - atleast in areas where they will offer coverage.

Therefore, far from becoming obsolete, signal boosters will in fact help 5G consumers even more than they did 4G consumers, to take full advantage of 5G benefits with 5G network-connected smart devices.

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  • Did Verizon really launch 5G first? I’ve heard that they may have debuted something they called 5G, but it wasn’t anything close to what 5G was supposed to be. I don’t really care as I haven’t bought 5G but it’s funny to listen to the hype between competitors.

    Sean Rhodes on
  • While all of this innovation can be great, it’s lacking any sort of public facing literature educating the users on safety of the technology, especially prevalent when it comes to millimeter spectrum that is going to be used on public en-masse for the first time in history.

    Robert Paulson on
  • Not a big bandwagon jumper (except with sports teams) and I’m certainly not ready to jump on the 5G bandwagon. Sure, Verizon is making a number of claims promoting 5G and sure, they sound amazing. However, how many times have we been told about Product X and how it’s bigger and better, only to face software bugs and device disasters? Count me in as someone who is excited, but patient enough to wait and see where things are come six months after the release.

    Caleb Johnson on
  • First isn’t always best. There are many promises being made about 5G and what it can deliver. Verizon is going to have considerable pressure on it to deliver the goods to people who go with a 5G phone. If people pay extra and they don’t get what they’re promised, Verizon is going to have many angry customers on their hands. In the meantime, their competitors AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint can learn from their mistakes and put out a good product. I think it will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

    Brent Lombardi on
  • I’ve got news for you. I’m not following Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or anyone when it comes to 5G. I’m not the kind of person who hops on a bandwagon, whether it’s 5G, no-carb diets, or any of the latest trends. I get sick whenever I see T-Mobile vs. Verizon ads or Sprint commercials. These cell phone companies screw over consumers every year and I think 5G is the latest scam. I’m keeping my current phone as it works just fine for me.

    Kent Dalton on
  • 5G at last and it’s Verizon 5G? I’m not sure. I’ve never had much luck with Verizon products and I don’t know if I’m ready to try a 5G cellular network until they work the kinks out. I knew 5G was coming, but I had no idea it would be from Verizon. I figured Sprint 5G might come out first (definitely not T-Mobile 5G) but as people say, “It is what it is.” I’m excited about 5G, but like all new technology, I’m sitting back and watching things play out.

    Alan H. Cooke on

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