Verizon’s C-band Spectrum Acquisition Impact on 5G

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In 2021, Verizon made headlines, making a significant investment of $45.5 billion at an auction for a5G spectrum in the C-band. The goal was to use this as the platform for their national 5G network.

There was one hurdle to overcome. Certain parts of the spectrum were occupied by satellite operators such as Intelsat and SES, who used this spectrum to deliver video and radio services. It was a predicament that had been predicted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC presented a solution in 2020, proposing a reward system of almost $10 billion to motivate satellite companies to clear the C-band spectrum by December 2023 swiftly. This plan has evidently worked, as most operators have quickly transitioned their services off the C-band, eager to pocket the substantial payouts.

Fast forward today, with about four months left until the deadline, Verizon has confidently confirmed that the migration process is accomplished. The completion of this process means that Verizon now has access to all of its C-band spectrum holdings. Consequently, it plans to introduce the supplementary spectrum nationwide. This expansion, according to Verizon, will potentially double or even triple the bandwidth for 5G customers in certain regions.

Joe Russo, EVP & President of Global Networks and Technology for Verizon, commented on this significant milestone stating, “Early access to the remainder of the C-band spectrum puts us another four months ahead of schedule from our original projections. This additional spectrum will make 5G Ultra Wideband available to even more Americans and will open up more availability of our home and business broadband solutions. The more spectrum we deploy on our network, the more capacity we add for our customers to connect.”

The integration of the newly available spectrum onto Verizon’s existing 5G RAN appears to be relatively straightforward. With a simple software update, Verizon will seamlessly integrate the additional airwaves.

Previously, Verizon had located 60MHz of C-band spectrum in 46 markets in 2022. This number was gradually increased as satellite operators progressively moved away from the C-band. Now, with unrestricted access to their C-band holdings, Verizon can offer a minimum of 140MHz of spectrum throughout the contiguous US, averaging about 161MHz. In 158 US markets, covering close to 40 million people, customers will have the luxury of accessing the full 200MHz of spectrum.

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