Verizon claims 'largest small cell deployment' in the U.S

Other carriers may get more attention with their small cell deployments, but Verizon claims to have the biggest rollout of small cells of any U.S. operator.

“We are a leader in small cell deployments,” Mike Haberman, VP of network for Verizon’s wireless business, said this week in an online interview with Techstination. “We have, quite frankly, the largest small cell deployment in the country.”

Like its rivals, Verizon is increasingly looking to small cells to increase capacity and improve network performance, particularly in urban areas. Small cells are complementary to more traditional macrosites, Haberman said, enabling carriers to fill in small gaps and transmit more data in areas where towers may not be sufficient.

“Think of it this way: The macrocells are sort of the umbrella network, and the small cells are underneath the umbrella network to provide the capacity needed,” he continued. “We’ve been doing this for many years. We’ve been on utility poles, we’ve been on traffic lights, and we’re putting the small cells on those locations.”

Haberman’s comments are noteworthy because other carriers have often been more vocal about their small cell ambitions than Verizon has. AT&T, for instance, openly said it had planned to deploy 40,000 of the transmitters by the end of 2015, but eventually fell well short of that goal. And Sprint continues to tout its pursuits of small cells, recently pointing to a rollout of 200 of the transmitters in Manhattan.

Haberman said small cells and other technologies and strategies will be crucial to keep pace with the increased demand that is sure to result from the carrier’s new unlimited data plan. Verizon announced the new plan last month, competing directly with recent unlimited plans from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

In addition to small cells, Haberman cited Verizon’s progress with technologies such as carrier aggregation and massive MIMO in strengthening its LTE network as data traffic continues to ramp up.

“We wouldn’t have launched (unlimited data) if we didn’t think we could support it,” he said. “Our proposition is that we’re giving you unlimited and we’re doing it the right way. We’re making sure we’re planning for it, designing for it, engineering it, so the service you expect to get or have gotten in the past, you expect to get with this plan.”