But mmWave signals have a problem. Sure they’re fast. But they don’t travel far and are easily blocked by structures, trees, and other things that can block the signal. Many Verizon customers started to wonder whether Ultra Wideband 5G really existed at all. But in a shrewd move, Verizon quickly expanded the range of its Ultra Wideband service allowing more subscribers to see that 5G UW icon on their phones.
When a Verizon user saw the 5G UW icon in his phone’s status bar, it used to imply only one thing. That phone had discovered the carrier’s 5G mmWave band coverage, which provided 5G download data rates of up to 1Gbps. For Verizon customers, seeing that indicator on a 5G ready phone was the Holy Grail, as it signified they were getting 5G service at the fastest download data speed. Verizon’s Ultra Wideband service now incorporates 5G transmissions in the mid-band.
While mmWave 5G download speeds peak at 1Gbps and average 300Mbps, 5G over the C-band tops out at 300Mbps and averages about 150Mbps. But with a swipe of an executive’s pen, Verizon changed Ultra Wideband to include 5G download data speed that was about half as fast as mmWave. That’s a pretty cool trick, eh?
Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage now includes mid-band signals – Verizon customers now have a better shot at seeing the iconic 5G UW icon on their phones. Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage now includes mid-band signals. So how did Big Red do this? Was it some kind of technology trick that allowed Verizon to extend the reach of mmWave signals? Well, let’s say it was a trick but it certainly was not magic. When Verizon launched its mid-band 5G coverage in the C-band, it quietly decided that those mid-band signals would also fall into the Ultra Wideband category even though they were slower than mmWave signals.
And the Ultra Wideband shell game will continue as Verizon announced today that it will take early control of C-band spectrum in additional markets. Now, with its new definition of what is called Ultra Wideband, Verizon can say that its Ultra Wideband 5G service will be coming to 30 additional regions including big population centers such as Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC, and Denver, CO.
And because the mid-band signals travel greater distances than mmWave, they are easier to find. This allows Verizon to say that more subscribers are now receiving its Ultra Wideband 5G service even though in reality, nothing has changed. The only difference is that Verizon customers with a 5G phone that connect to the carrier’s C-band signals now get to see that cool-looking 5G UW icon in their handset’s status bar.
This spectrum was originally supposed to be cleared for use in December 2023, and now, by the end of this year, Verizon hopes to have 175 million people covered by its Ultra Wideband service, a year ahead of schedule. Kyle Malady, EVP and President of Global Network and Technology, said, “This early spectrum clearance is just the latest development that allows us to bring 5G Ultra Wideband to our customers faster.”
Verizon also uses Massive MIMO and Carrier Aggregation to amp up its 5G signals
Malady continued by stating, “We’ve been able to accelerate deployment because we’re driving more efficiency and coverage from the C-band spectrum, leveraging opportunities like the one we are announcing today, and leveraging our already in place infrastructure. In my career with Verizon, I have never experienced a network deployment move so quickly.”
Verizon is employing technology such as Massive MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) to increase the number of antennas carrying signals between a 5G base station and a 5G handset. This creates multiple paths for data to travel between the two points. With Carrier Aggregation, different network bands are combined to increase bandwidth and deliver faster data speeds. Verizon’s Malady states, “We will continue to give more customers access to 5G while building the entire network infrastructure and ecosystem to provide the most meaningful 5G experience possible for our customers.”