Verizon hits 4.3 Gbps in C-band, mmWave trial

Verizon worked with Ericsson and MediaTek to aggregate C-band spectrum with millimeter wave (mmWave) in a lab trial, achieving speeds of 4.3 Gbps.

The lab trial is part of tests that Verizon has been doing with C-band spectrum across the U.S. under special temporary authorization from the FCC. The trial that produced the 4.3 Gbps speeds was conducted in Texas.

Specifically, the lab trial aggregated 100 MHz of C-band spectrum together with 600 MHz of mmWave spectrum, according to Verizon. The basebands and radios were from Ericsson’s portfolio, including its RAN Compute Baseband 6648, Antenna-Integrated Radio (AIR) 6449 for the C-band spectrum and the Streetmacro 6701 for mmWave.

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The device used in the trial was a pre-market test device based on MediaTek’s M80 modem, which combines mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G technologies on a single chip. The M80 conforms to 3GPP Release 1 and supports ultra-fast speeds. According to the companies, MediaTek’s 5G modems are suitable for a variety of devices, including smartphones, Mi-Fi hotspots, PCs, broadband customer premise equipment (CPE) and industrial IoT applications.

Verizon spent more than $45 billion to get an average of 161 MHz of C-band spectrum across the country, including 60 MHz of A block spectrum that covers 46 markets and starts to become available late this year. The carrier already is deploying C-band equipment from Ericsson and Samsung ahead of the spectrum getting cleared. 

Verizon expects to aggregate across all of its spectrum bands – low, mid-band and mmWave, according to Bill Stone, VP of Technology Planning at Verizon.

“We can aggregate both bands or use either band by itself for the uplink. That flexibility enables Verizon to adapt to different coverage conditions and provide our customers the best experience,” he told Fierce via email. 

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The radios in this trial leveraged Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), and Verizon plans to deploy Massive MIMO throughout its network across C-band and mmWave. “Massive MIMO results in more precise beamforming, which will improve spectral and energy efficiency and provide higher throughput and consistently high speeds,” Stone said.

Verizon’s C-band tests involve markets across the country, including remote areas like Jackson, South Dakota, but the company isn’t saying much about its plans there. Stone said the company has C-band tests happening in several different markets and labs to work on different aggregation combinations in a variety of environments.

Verizon expects to provide service using C-band to 100 million people by the first quarter of 2022. Over the course of 2022 and 2023, its coverage is expected to increase to more than 175 million people, and when all of the C-band spectrum it acquired is cleared, it will reach more than 250 million people.

No doubt, Verizon has some catching up to do. During T-Mobile’s earnings call on Tuesday, President of Technology Neville Ray said T-Mobile is deploying more radio gear at a pace that’s much faster than it’s ever seen in the past. It expects to cover 200 million people nationwide with its Ultra Capacity 5G by the end of this year. It’s also talking about speeds hitting 400 megabits per second on average, mostly thanks to its 2.5 GHz spectrum acquired via Sprint.

Note: Article updated with corrected C-band deployment plans.