Verizon updates on DSS plans–focus on ‘overall customer experience’

Ericsson DSS solution takes CTO Award at GLOMOs

Dynamic spectrum sharing is poised to be a key technology operators will use to quickly scale out 5G coverage, ease the transition from non-standalone to standalone 5G and, as a function of both, accelerate service revenues associated with 5G investments. At the moment, Ericsson is alone in that it has a generally available DSS offering–Ericsson Spectrum Sharing. So what if you’re an operator that uses Nokia and Ericsson radio access equipment–do you need both vendors to support DSS before taking advantage of the feature or can you take a market-by-market approach?

Verizon, for instance, has made clear it plans to use DSS to expand on its current millimeter wave 5G service. Verizon has built its 5G network using equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung. So what factors is Verizon considering as it works toward an ultimate activation of DSS?

“We can load software and conduct testing with each infrastructure vendor independently,” Verizon spokesperson Karen Schulz toward RCR Wireless News in an email. “It is an implementation decision when we activate the capability for our customers–whether or not we activate all three vendors simultaneously or not.”

Asked to expand on the decision-making process, Schulz said: “We’re really looking at the overall customer experience and the evolution of the market. As you know, our strategy has been to deploy a differentiated 5G experience on mmWave – one that is markedly different from the experience a customer can receive on 4G LTE – and to do that in public spaces and unique locations to help drive the evolution of the market.  As the 5G ecosystem evolves (devices with 5G and DSS capabilities, applications that need 5G core access, etc.) we will make decisions on offering 5G on lower bands using DSS, and we will look at that in terms of the overall experience for customers on 4G and 5G.  As you have seen, the 5G low band experience from other providers today is really no different than our 4G LTE experience.  When we feel it will provide the best experience for all customers – 4G and 5G – we will look at deploying 5G on lower bands.  Until then, we feel our mix of nationwide 4G LTE and differentiated 5G ultrawide band provides the best experience for our customers.”

Consideration of how to use DSS as a function of both LTE and 5G networks is key–the dynamic nature of the technology means resources are being shifted from one to the other and vice versa. This is something T-Mobile US President of Technology Neville Ray hit on during a February earnings call.

“We’ve been a key proponent and driver of that technology, but it’s late,” Ray said, adding, “What we’re seeing, unfortunately, as you know, we are seeing some vendor delays there. There’s a lot of information coming through as we start to fully test software and capability in the future. … We’re seeing as we learn more that, as you deploy DSS, it kind of eats away on the net capacity of the shared radio. And if you rush into that now, some of the early roll-outs and workarounds and pieces that we’ve seen are pretty corrosive and they would suck up capacity just by rolling out the feature.”

“It’s to be a tough year on DSS,” Ray said, adding that “I’m not being super negative about it. I’m just saying it’s got challenges.” But, he said, “We’ll keep pushing. The industry will. The good news for us is that we clearly, as we’ve demonstrated, don’t have to wait for DSS for our low-band deployment.”

T-Mobile is offering nationwide 5G services using its 600 MHz spectrum, and millimeter wave-based services in parts of a limited number of markets. The operator has generally characterized is 5G spectrum strategy as reliant on merging with Sprint and having access to low-, mid- and high-band spectrum. Sprint is using its 2.5 GHz spectrum,  massive MIMO radios and the dual-connectivity feature to offer commercial 5G services and enhancements to its LTE network.

And while there may be a mixed embrace of DSS from U.S. operators with markedly different approaches to 5G, the panel that decides on GLOMO winners was quite clear, awarding Ericsson Spectrum Sharing the Overall Mobile Technology Award.



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