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Verizon 5G Coverage


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Whatever their current LTE bandwidth is on 850MHz is the same for NR. However, because it's split between both LTE and NR, it'll mean slower speeds on both networks. This seems worse for everyone until Verizon transitions enough users to 5G that they can dedicate all of their available 850MHz bandwidth to NR.

I do like their 5G coverage map though. I wish T-Mobile would be as upfront about mmWave coverage. In some markets like NYC, T-Mobile's mmWave network is much larger than Verizon's though it is also much slower since T-Mobile owns a lot less mmWave spectrum than Verizon here.

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It's a little surprising just how little 5G VZW has on their "nationwide" rollout. On one hand, they didn't have the excuse of FirstNet to touch a ton of cell sites. On the other, this looks like a fraction of the area covered by B5 licenses. There's plenty of room for improvement, but they went from not having 5G in a bunch of large metros to...still not having 5G in a bunch of large metros. 99% sure T-Mobile's n71 was bigger at launch than VZW's is now, and I wouldn't be surprised if AT&T's was as well, despite not launching with DSS.

I saw something on Reddit about VZW not wanting to run n2 because they'd have to use a low-band anchor for that, which would mean the (old, congested) B13 LTE that they started with a decade ago. At this rate, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they waited until they had SA ready to launch n2, and at that point we'll probably see n66 as well.

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It is enough coverage to hit 200M pops so there is that.  Seems more important and gets VZW up there into AT&T/TMobile in terms of covered people.  Plus these sites likely have been getting strong builds to where VZ needs it to keep their LTE strong.

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Looking at the map in this area (Fairfax County, VA), I see sites that I know do not have Band 5 LTE that are showing as having 5G NR.  I need to check if PCS is now running on some of them, as I've not done that in a while.  If it is, then PCS.  If not, AWS.

EDIT:  In Richmond, they hold both the A- and B-blocks in 850 MHz.  Pretty sure they're using 850 MHz there based on the far less defined coverage area, but I wonder if they're doing DSS at all and are, instead, splitting the spectrum.  Maybe next time I'm down that way I'll take my spectrum analyzer and see what I can see.

- Trip

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On 10/14/2020 at 2:14 PM, Trip said:

Looking at the map in this area (Fairfax County, VA), I see sites that I know do not have Band 5 LTE that are showing as having 5G NR.  I need to check if PCS is now running on some of them, as I've not done that in a while.  If it is, then PCS.  If not, AWS.

EDIT:  In Richmond, they hold both the A- and B-blocks in 850 MHz.  Pretty sure they're using 850 MHz there based on the far less defined coverage area, but I wonder if they're doing DSS at all and are, instead, splitting the spectrum.  Maybe next time I'm down that way I'll take my spectrum analyzer and see what I can see.

- Trip

Here AT&T is the one with both CLR-A and CLR-B. If I force B5 on my S20, I see a bandwidth of 10 MHz. When my Nighthawk M1 was active I saw 20 MHz there so I'm not 100% certain what's going on, but AT&T may have decided DSS wasn't worth it here and gone back to dedicated channels for LTE and NR. Should be able to investigate in a week or so when a family member with and AT&T phone is back in town.

VZW could handle things similarly if they think they have enough 5G phones in the field. Throw 10 MHz at NR, 15 MHz at LTE, with PRB blanking to slip some CDMA in there. Or just run 10x10 of each and don't do anything special for the CDMA channels.

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday and today, I got reports from folks on VZW that they have 5G here in Austin now. VZW doesn't have B5 here, so they're either doing n2 or n66. Speeds are 105-140 down, 27-30 up. VZW has 15 MHz of contiguous PCS here as I recall, and I believe they have at least one 15 MHz AWS channel as well; will have to check one of my now-VZW-based family members' phones when they're here next to confirm channel bandwidths.

If I had to guess, I'd say VZW is running n2 here because, to my knowledge, site spacing isn't particularly dense so the extra propagation loss of using AWS would present a problem, compounded with NR being more fragile than LTE. Kinda wonder how much further n2 reaches vs. M-MIMO n41 (or if VZW's n2/66 also uses Massive MIMO).

Either way, in order to get consistent 5G coverage, VZW will need to deploy a *much* denser network in n2/66 markets than in n5 markets (which in turn is denser than n71 requires). This probably means they'll have more NR capacity here than T-Mobile or AT&T as a baseline; AT&T is 10 MHz n5, TMo is 15 MHz n71, both dedicated. Of course, that changes as soon as n41 shows up, and TMo *can* exceed VZW's capacity even on low-band by adding site density on n71.

Further down the road, I expect VZW will light up a ton of markets simultaneously with C-band NR as soon as the lower part of the band is cleared (zero doubt in my mind that they'll get a significant amount of the early-clearing spectrum that also sites in the n78 band), rather like they flipped the switch on Nationwide 5G overnight. With that said, I'm pretty sure VZW's site density in my neck of the woods isn't enough to provide consistent C-band coverage. On the other hand, I expect that anywhere with CBRS LTE now...in an early-clearing area...will get C-Band NR coverage in a year.

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  • 2 months later...

Mom's S20 on Ting is now picking up 5G. It appears that n2 and n66 are both being used (VZW doesn't have band 5 spectrum here), but I'm not convinced that Samsung Band Selector is actually selecting NR bands so it could actually be one or the other. This is mainly notable as the first time Ting-on-VZW has been seen to use 5G, though of course it's the crappy DSS type.

I'll save the discussions on C-Band for other threads, beyond noting that VZW got 60 MHz in A here just like everywhere else that clears early, and will have 140 MHz once everything clears.

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  • 4 weeks later...

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-s-ronan-dunne-says-carrier-may-densify-network-for-c-band

Article about Verizon.  Depressing to read:

Quote

 

He said the combination of deploying mmWave 5G in urban areas and deploying C-band in the first 46 urban markets will “densify” the network quite a bit in 2021.

“So, we’re not building new macros,” said Dunne. “In the medium-term in rural and semi-rural areas, we may take the opportunity to do some infill. But in the short-term in the dense urban areas, we have no incremental macro site requirements.”

 

- Trip

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20 hours ago, Trip said:

It a doubling of small cells from 15k to 30k. The bigger risk is a possible backlash to small cells in general if they Christmas tree out their small cells with too many antennas.

I expect T-Mobile to reduce small cells given redundancy with their newly defined macro sites unless they use them for n77.

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There are plenty of places where Verizon could really use additional macro sites--especially if they're needing increased density for n77 to run properly.  This feels like the Sprint small cell strategy all over again.

In this area, I'm not sure I've ever seen a T-Mobile small cell.  Verizon small cells are relatively common, particularly on the roofs of gas stations and shopping centers.  AT&T has plans to put in a boat load on utility poles.  Sprint, of course, has strand mount pretty much anywhere that coverage for 2.5 GHz was poor along larger roads, but mixed in with a few small cells on utility poles.

- Trip

 

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Posted (edited)

They can infill with micros instead of dropping a macro. Upgrading existing macros will improve total coverage as well.

VZW has been able to do extremely well with the macros, spectrum and customers that they have.  So where ever they put their money they clearly show that it is a working strategy.  I wouldn't be too concerned with the lack of additional macros.

Edited by red_dog007
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So, VZW is continuing to insist that its C-Band propagates comparably to, or better than, 2.5:

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-defends-c-band-plans

The latest argument is that they can get 4db of extra gain from same-size antennas on C-Band vs. 2.5, and their power output can be much higher over a large amount of bandwidth vs. the 2.5 GHz band's restrictions.

My immediate questions here are:

  1. Is VZW actually deploying the same size antennas a T-Mobile, so they actually get the gain improvement?
  2. Is 2.5 even bumping up against power restrictions to start with (from what I can tell, the answer is a solid "no", as sectors are limited to 640W EIRP total by hardware)?
  3. If C-Band is really better for coverage, why did T-Mobile completely ignore the band outside large markets where they have tighter cell spacing anyway?
  4. How does this solve transmit power limitations on the subscriber side, for mobile devices in particular?

Now, maybe VZW's radio vendors have some super high power C-Band equipment in the pipeline for late 2023 that *would* run afoul of 2.5 EIRP limitations, but there's a significant jump required to actually get there. Or maybe they care about coverage with a much higher end-user transmit power (NR SA with high-gain outdoor antennas). But that's not really comparing apples to apples.

In other news, I've confirmed that the VZW site 0.4 mi south of me has n2 at 15 MHz, with no n66, as VZW's B66 channels are the same non-contiguous 10 MHz setup that T-Mobile has in B4...except one of VZW's is actually in B66 (T-Mobile has another 5 MHz in B66). Pretty sure the lower speeds I was seeing on 5G vs. LTE were because 5G uses 25 MHz of spectrum (n2 15 MHz + B13 10 MHz), while LTE uses 45 MHz (B2 15 MHz + B66 10 + 10 MHz + B13 10 MHz).

What's interesting is that there appears to be mmWave gear on the site. I have a Visible SIM coming in tomorrow that should help me better confirm what's going on (assuming mmW is live yet). VZW has their own fiber to the site, while T-Mobile has Fiberlight to the same site. Which brings up its own set of questions:

  1. Will this site get C-Band as well?
  2. When will mmW actually turn on, if not already?
  3. Will mmW reach my place (probably not)?

One eventual issue is that I'll have an apartment complex between me and the site, so if I get mmW reception now from there, I won't in a few years when the complex goes up. But by that point there'll be 140 MHz of C_Band to play with I suppose. Or I won't care because I'll have FTTH :)

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I think Verizon is betting on increased power levels for the C-Band, as championed by FCC commissioner Carr.  From his speech at the American Enterprise Institute https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-370781A1.pdf :

"We should seek comment this year on increasing the power levels for CBRS operations in the 3.5 GHz band. Upping the power levels here would help align the U.S. band plan with international standards and create efficiencies for midband 5G builds in the U.S. that could span the 3.45 GHz to C Band spectrum ranges. We should take the real-world experiences we’re gaining with CBRS builds and coordinate with federal users as we look at increasing the power levels here. Getting this done will help extend the reach of 5G services to even more Americans."

 

Or more expicitly by Verizon: 

'While uplink is the most limiting factor, there are also some considerations when it comes to downlink. That includes stricter power limitations on EBS/BRS under FCC rules than for C-band - a difference which become more marked as beamwidth widens and in rural areas, according to Stone.   

“There’s the puts and takes,” he said. “C-band has advantage in transmit power, 2.5 has the advantage in propagation loss, but when you do the math in rural areas in particular, the downlink for C-band has an advantage and that becomes more pronounced at wider beamwidths for EBS/BRS, and those restrictions don’t apply at wider beamwidths for C-band.”'

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-defends-c-band-plans

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Verizon will say anything to attempt to explain their way out of why they won't be doing any macro densification for C-band, just as any other carrier would in their position.

The long and short of it is that everyone, including their own investors, believes that Verizon needs to densify but they don't want to spend the money to do so the requisite macro densification after spending so much on spectrum alone.

They're trying to make BRS/EBS seem like it's worse spectrum to back up their claim but virtually everyone (including T-Mobile aka the only carrier that owns both C-band and BRS/EBS) has stated the opposite.

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First-generation C-Band antennas boast impressive gain figures, quite a few dBi above BRS/EBS antennas today. That being said, I think that uplink from UEs will fail much quicker on C-Band than on BRS/EBS. 

C-Band will be pretty competitive when it comes to aggregation with lower bands - probably close to BRS/EBS range when used as a non-primary component carrier (especially when fewer obstacles are present). 

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Got a Visible SIM in today and...yeesh, deprioritization is a thing. Speeds are all over the map.

With that said, ServiceMode isn't blocked like with normal VZW SIMs, and I was able to confirm that they will now aggregste n2 with 66+66+13, for 45 MHz total, 30 of which is LTE. Saw 164/30 on a speed test (albeit with horrid ping) so that was cool. I may test again tonight when the network is unloaded, to see if I hit the 200 Mbps speed cap.

I also confirmed that mmW, if the panels I saw are really mmW, isn't het active on the site. Though I had to get within 1/3 mi of the site to even get NR...outdoors! No CBRS either. I'll keep checking of course.

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Posted (edited)

I haven't been able to find the research article, but it was from a vendor such as the likes of Nokia.  They were testing real world scenario of 3.5GHz coverage and said that it performed very similar to 2.1GHz. 

There will be marketing from everyone, but I don't think that 3.5GHz is going to be this horrible band that 2.5GHz was originally made up to be by everyone just because some company said it wasn't good or didn't buy it.

Technology has come a long way, we have many macro and micro sites now. Even if it has coverage shortfalls that doesn't matter because we have equipment to fix it.  If VZW finds they need 3.5GHz in this one area that is a deadzone for speed, they can toss up a pole mount or wire mount antenna and fill it in. Shoot, all the companies have spent billions on mmWave, deploy on 5GHz, would like to deploy on 6GHz.

The answer is you apply it to what you need, where it is needed, do you have enough, how do you make it enough? Do I need more spectrum, do I need to deploy more sites? You fix the issues with spectrum, hardware and engineering. You look at VZW now with the smallest spectrum portfolio (pre CBRS/C-Band) supporting the most users and they have not been left in the dust in terms of speeds but all these years have been able to still continually improve their speeds.

I think TMobile can easily ignore C-band outside urban areas because their existing portfolio allows it, especially as bidding prices went up. They may have bid but hit a point of it not being worth it. They had loads of 600/PCS/AWS/2.5GHz that equal 200~300MHz. Before Sprint on rural builds they wouldn't even do full deployments, and sometimes only deploy on a single band. Shows that it isn't needed and they can still spend hundreds of millions doing full site builds in rural areas. They can still use 5GHz, in the future likely 6GHz. Plus CBRS is still available for unlicensed use.

Edited by red_dog007
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19 hours ago, iansltx said:

I also confirmed that mmW, if the panels I saw are really mmW, isn't het active on the site. Though I had to get within 1/3 mi of the site to even get NR...outdoors! No CBRS either. I'll keep checking of course.

In terms of mmWave, he said the technology to tap the spectrum has come a long way. “When it was first launched by Verizon, I think the ranges were in the order of 500-900 meters,” said Irizarry. “We’ve been testing with Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and some of the handset folks. MmWave for the home ranges up to 5 kilometers. I do think there’s a place for wireless to offer competitive offerings to the existing fixed broadband offerings.”
 

Irizarry is from US Cellular, https://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/t-mobile-s-ulf-ewaldsson-says-time-has-come-for-fixed-wireless

Obviously Home Internet would have bigger antennas than your smartphone, but it does seem mmWave tech is improving.  

Initially Verizon was using lower frequencies for the uplink.  Perhaps they will do so again with c-band etc.

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10 minutes ago, red_dog007 said:

I think TMobile can easily ignore C-band outside urban areas because their existing portfolio allows it, especially as bidding prices went up. They may have bid but hit a point of it not being worth it. They had loads of 600/PCS/AWS/2.5GHz that equal 200~300MHz. Before Sprint on rural builds they wouldn't even do full deployments, and sometimes only deploy on a single band. Shows that it isn't needed and they can still spend hundreds of millions doing full site builds in rural areas. They can still use 5GHz, in the future likely 6GHz. Plus CBRS is still available for unlicensed use.

I think T-Mobile was keeping their powder dry for the EBS auction for rural and other areas, hopefully later this year.  I don't think the Duo will let them get it super cheap and will rather try to adjust the rules against T-Mobile for more EBS.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Verizon starts C-Band equipment deployment

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-starts-c-band-equipment-deployment

I'm really interested in seeing if Verizon will continue to try to up-sell their customers by preventing them from using C-band unless they're on one of their more expensive plans that includes access to Ultra Wideband 5G. It would be great for preserving capacity but would suck for their customers.

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1 hour ago, Paynefanbro said:

Verizon starts C-Band equipment deployment

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-starts-c-band-equipment-deployment

I'm really interested in seeing if Verizon will continue to try to up-sell their customers by preventing them from using C-band unless they're on one of their more expensive plans that includes access to Ultra Wideband 5G. It would be great for preserving capacity but would suck for their customers.

Yeah, looks like they are moving very fast with this.

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So, VZW has 60 MHz of CBRS live on the site 0.5 mi north of me. Can't reach inside at this distance, but getting a bit closer to the site turns in some pretty solid speeds, given that LTE is being used: 

Nothing you can't do with B41 3CA of course, and there are a ton more phones that can do B41 3CA than can do B48, but I'll take it.

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  • Posts

    • Good point. You could try submitting a report to @NevilleRay or @TMobileHelp about the congestion on the nearby macro sites?
    • Sure, but it didn't matter how Sprint's 800 MHz was down there, since we have 1900 MHz LTE on the DAS.  I'd rather my T-Mobile iPhone used the Sprint Legacy 1900 MHz LTE signal that's available down there than the 600 MHz 5G/LTE macro network, which is congested as we share it with a major transit hub in the area.  My phone will hop over to the Sprint signal when it loses the T-Mobile signal entirely, but it's a hard transition to "Roaming," not seamless like the Sprint "keep" sites are around here.
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    • I wish these network testing and speed testing organizations would hit the providers with a big negative for areas with unusable or very slow coverage.  The difference between 1mb/s and 1,000mb/s in download speed or between 3g/4g/LTE/5g/etc. doesn't matter very much to most people who are not using their mobile device as a hotspot or casting to another screen.  The difference between no service and 1mb/s is very important to all users in all areas and its importance should be taken into account on these tests.  Upload speed should always be a minimum of 5% of the download speed for the download speed to be counted as useful.
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