Verizon updates on mmWave 5G use cases

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Wi-Fi can’t do what mmWave 5G can and “enterprises want that,” Verizon VP of Device Technology says

MAUI—Coinciding with Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, Verizon deployed a mmWave 5G network on-site at the Grand Wailea that has been consistently pushing download speeds north of 3 Gbps and upload speeds in the 200 Mbps to 300 Mbps range. While the crowd at the event is largely using that network to rack up quadruple-digit speed test figures, Brian Meacum, Verizon’s vice president of device technology, said the point was to highlight the performance of mmWave 5G—“It’s pretty ridiculous what you can do,” he told me as we ran speed tests on a fifth-floor lanai overlooking the Pacific. 

Verizon was early to mmWave 5G, launching a pre-standard fixed wireless access home broadband service in select markets, then updating that to align with 3GPP specifications. Since then, Verizon has materially expanded the service, and augmented its mmWave offering with its sub-6 GHz C-Band spectrum. 

But beyond speed tests and fixed wireless access, what’s a consumer to do with all that throughput? Well, how about mobile gaming? Verizon is bringing to market next year the Razer Edge 5G Android-based gaming handheld device. Meacum had one with him, and I got to demo one earlier in the day; I’m bound to not share my impressions of the device until various embargoes lift around CES in January.  That said, Meacum did join the Snapdragon Summit to briefly tease the upcoming device launch—“You’re talking about something that’s really a game-changer for people,” he said.

So FWA, gaming, what else? “You like the NFL?” Meacum asked me. No, not really something I care about. “Are you familiar with F1?” He figured me out. Verizon deployed network infrastructure for the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix in Miami earlier this year. Race fans could use Verizon’s mmWave 5G network to access multiple video streams during the race which comes in handy when you want to keep up with the race beyond what you can see from your seat without relying on the announcers or trackside video boards—also a use case that benefits tremendously from low latency. “It’s killer to be able to experience that,” he said. “You could your driver’s view, the track corner…you could control and personalize it yourself.” 

Taken together—home broadband, mobile, cloud gaming, and event/venue experiences—Verizon is forging a path to monetization of its mmWave and sub-6 GHz 5G network. In the venue context, beyond providing attendee benefits, there’s clear upside that venue operators and concessions can realize by leveraging 5G for back-of-house processes.

mmWave 5G is among Verizon’s articulated growth vectors, as is its private networks business. To Meacum: “Private networks offer what corporations have sought for a long time, which is better capacity, better security and handoffs to commercial networks. The large enterprises of the world, whether you’re in supply chain or whatever business you’re in, you want your people to have simplicity…They also want the capacity that comes with it. Wi-Fi cannot keep up with 5G. It costs too much to manage, it’s not as secure and it doesn’t handoff. And Wi-Fi just can’t do what mmWave can. Enterprises want that.” 

“Private networks offer what corporations have sought for a long time which is better capacity, better security and handoffs to commercial networks. The large enterprises of the world, whether you’re in supply chain or whatever business you’re in, you want your people to have simplicity.” Use their own device with MDM. Use cases where small segments, you want someone to take care of something but don’t want to give them an expensive handheld that they take with them. “Businesses are coming to us and they’re saying, they’ll pay for it themselves. The problem with Wi-Fi management and infrastructure, keeping up with the Joneses” it’s not sustainable. 

“They also want the capacity that comes with it. Wi-Fi cannot keep up with 5G. It costs too much to manage, it’s not as secure and it doesn’t handoff. And Wi-Fi just can’t do what mmWave can. Enterprises want that.”