Verizon Wireless says current spectrum holdings are sufficient for 5G buildout

Verizon Wireless is confident it doesn’t need more spectrum to achieve its 5G goals. The carrier has only used a little more than half of its existing spectrum holdings, roughly 53%, for 4G LTE services and has more than enough unused licensed spectrum to accomplish its 5G buildout plans, Ronan Dunne, the carrier’s president, said Tuesday at the Citi 2019 Global TMT West Conference.

It may not be what a room full of investors and financial analysts wanted to hear, but the nation’s largest wireless carrier is adamant about its ability to build a nationwide 5G network with existing holdings. Roughly 60% of 1,000 megahertz of spectrum that Verizon holds in 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequencies, also known as millimeter wave spectrum, is unused, Dunne said, according to a transcription of his on-stage interview by Seeking Alpha.

“We have an explosion of capacity in the areas where the demand is created by the largest contiguous holding of millimeter spectrum on the planet,” he said.

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Verizon is blending wireline and wireless in its 5G strategy, starting with the October launch of Verizon’s 5G Home service in a few markets. Although the initial rollout uses Verizon’s 5GTF standard, Dunne said the carrier still plans to migrate that service to a full commercial launch of 5G New Radio for mobile services this year. “A product or technology orientation was kind of inconsistent with the way our industry is evolving,” Dunne said. Customers are largely technology agnostic and primarily looking for business solutions and experiences, he added.

When Dunne was asked to determine how long it will be before consumers no longer distinguish a difference between wireless, wireline and cable services, he framed his response around 5G and the “fundamental transformational capability” it represents. “We are on the cusp of an industrial revolution,” he said. “We will look back in 10 years and realize everything has changed.”

Dunne declined to give specific numbers about segment growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, but reiterated that business-to-business was the fastest growing part of Verizon’s business through the previous quarter. He also spoke about AT&T’s ongoing deployment of the FirstNet network for first responders and said Verizon has the wherewithal to compete for customers in that area. He pointed to Verizon’s 400,000 square miles of coverage as a clear advantage over its competitors.

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“We have the capabilities within our network to give them the dedicated private network to give them the interoperability and all of the tools first responders need,” he said, according to transcript by Seeking Alpha. He reaffirmed that the carrier is confident it can continue to meet and exceed the reputation it has with the first responder community. Verizon reports its full Q4 2018 results later this month.