Verizon to unleash 5G with full C-band spectrum might (all $45 billion of it)

Verizon to unleash 5G with full C-band spectrum might (all $45 billion of it)

Verizon has gained access to all the C-band spectrum assets it spent more than $45 billion to acquire and that are crucial to the carrier’s 5G and network efforts.

The C-band spectrum used by mobile operators resides in the 3.7 GHz-3.98 GHz band and was initially underutilized by fixed-satellite operators. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) worked to free up that spectrum for mobile telecommunications services, which resulted in the spectrum auction that began in late 2020, and was completed in early 2021.

Telecom operators in total spent more than $81 billion on the 280 megahertz of spectrum that was put up for bid, with some of those proceeds used to migrate the fixed-satellite operators out of those bands. The FCC had initially set a December 2025 deadline for those fixed-satellite operators to vacate the spectrum, but also provided an accelerated deadline program that would provide those operators with a financial incentive to move up that migration.

SES Americom was one of those fixed-satellite operators, which last week gained FCC approval for its migration.

Verizon, which spent more than $45 billion for 56% of the licenses up for bid, said that clearing process for its spectrum was completed four months ahead of the accelerated schedule and it now has access to all of those spectrum assets. The carrier’s C-band spectrum licenses range from between 140 megahertz to 200 megahertz depending on geographic location.

Carriers have been injecting C-band spectrum into their networks as the airwaves have become available. This has been a significant driver of recent capex spending from those carriers.

Independent network tests have highlighted the dramatic impact of that spectrum. Testing conducted by OpenSignal showed Verizon’s 5G download speeds increased from 56.2 Mb/s during tests conducted in late 2021, to 96.3 Mb/s during tests conducted through the first half of this year.

AT&T and T-Mobile US, which were the other significant C-band spectrum auction winners, did not respond to comment about their current access by press time.

Verizon C-band to turbocharge 5G FWA

Verizon has been touting its C-band deployment as powering its fixed-wireless access (FWA) service. CEO Hans Vestberg told an investor conference earlier this year that FWA is “the killer application today.”

The carrier added 384,000 FWA connections during the second quarter of this year, which was a 50% increase from what it added during the second quarter of 2022. The carrier counted nearly 2.3 million FWA customers at mid-year, which was nearly halfway to its target of up to 5 million FWA customers at the end of 2024.

Verizon’s FWA growth has so far been limited to 70 larger markets where the operator has put its C-band spectrum assets to work. Vestberg said the operator would look to expand the reach of that service to new markets as it gains broader access to that spectrum.

“The next step is going to be much more suburban and rural, and that’s a great opportunity because usually there are even less options for customers in those areas,” Vestberg said. “We talked about this being one of the most important 5G applications. … And now you can see what it means to us and how important it’s going to be over time.”

Read Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *