Verizon can compete effectively against FirstNet for public-safety users, company exec says
Verizon is positioned well to compete with AT&T FirstNet in the public-safety-broadband marketplace and to begin offering 5G services in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020, according to Ronan Dunne, Verizon executive vice president and president of Verizon Wireless.
“We have the wherewithal to compete with FirstNet today,” Dunne said yesterday during the Citi 2019 TMT Global West Conference in Las Vegas. “FirstNet doesn’t even have the wherewithal to compete with FirstNet today—they haven’t built out many of the [cell sites associated with FirstNet]. We have over a 400,000-square-mile advantage over our nearest competitor. So, if you’re a first responder looking for coverage wherever [the first responder needs] it, I’m already delivering that.
“We have the capabilities within our network to give them the dedicated private network, to give them the interoperability—all of the tools that first responders need. So, specifically to first responders, I feel very confident about our ability to … continue to meet the reputation that we’ve built with those [first responders].”
Dunne repeatedly reiterated his pride in the performance of the existing Verizon network and the prospects of the company’s 5G offerings, which have been trialed in four markets to date, leveraging the carrier’s millimeter-wave spectrum for the first time.
“The performance of the product is higher than anticipated,” Dunne said. “We advertised a 300 MB/s product, and most of our customers are seeing closer to a gig than to 300 meg. Again, we’re only using today only 400 MHz of the 1,000 MHz of spectrum that we have in the millimeter-wave [band]. So, we’re only using 40% of the spectrum, and we’re seeing really, really strong performance.”
Verizon is providing residential fixed 5G services during these trials, but Dunne noted that such offerings are considered “an incremental opportunity” that is immediately available while the carrier builds a 5G mobility network. The trials are particularly important, because 5G’s use of beam-forming technology over millimeter-wave airwaves is unprecedented, he said.
“We’re learning very, very quickly that there are no propagation maps for 5G or propagation tools, because there literally isn’t any out there,” Dunne said. “So literally, as we build it and deploy it, we are building the tools and the mapping to understand how you build a 5G coverage-map propagation map and the tools to help us.
“So, every week, our ability to identify the signal strength [and] the location for the nodes is improving. That’s reducing our false positives. It’s also reducing our deployment time.”
Motorola—the commercial smartphone maker, not Motorola Solutions—will provide the first device to support 5G service via a modem modification, while Samsung will provide the first fully 5G handset later this year, Dunne said. Verizon will provide further 5G device details in an announcement in the “not-to-distant future,” he said.
Regardless of the device used, the impact of 5G will be enormous during the next several years, according to Dunne.
“5G is not an upgrade; 5G is a fundamental, transformational capability,” he said. “We are on the cusp of the fourth Industrial Revolution. We will look back in 10 years’ time and realize everything has changed and changed utterly. How it plays out over that first 10 years is anyone’s bet. I guarantee you, in 10 years’ time, everyone will say we underestimated how big this was.”