A look back at Verizon's network milestones in 2017

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BASKING RIDGE, NJ – 2017 was a tremendous year for innovation and technology advancement on Verizon’s network.  We continued leading the industry in reliability, coverage and speed, and made significant strides toward the network of the future for our customers, investing in the latest technologies and software platforms, and pushing boundaries in both 4G LTE Advanced features and 5G technology. Here are some highlights.

4G LTE Advanced industry firsts for customers

4G LTE Advanced features provide increased capacity and even faster speeds for consumers, taking advantage of many new technological advancements to use our network assets more efficiently and harness unlicensed spectrum. Many of these enhancements are also foundational stepping stones on the way to 5G and provide tangible benefits today while laying the groundwork for our next generation network.

In 2017, we built on our rich history of industry breakthroughs with some “new firsts”:

Pioneering 5G

Along with our ecosystem partners, we continued to explore the possibilities of future of 5G technology trials and use cases. The technology will unleash amazing capabilities and innovation through massive bandwidth and gigabit speeds, even lower latency – response time in the blink of an eye – and scalability in the billions of IOT devices. 

  • This year saw us launch the country’s largest pre-commercial 5G trials. Customers are providing us with valuable data and insights, helping advance our expertise in the deployment of millimeter-wave technology as we learn from the diversity of topology, building construction, population densities, demographics and vendors.
  • Here’s a short video that highlights our recent field trials.
  • Some examples of lessons learned from the trials include: 

o    Millimeter-wave spectrum propagates better than expected; results show we can get as high as 19 floors using our 28 GHz spectrum.
o    Median speeds of 1 GB/second beyond 2,000 feet from cell sites, further than expected.
o    We’re getting better results than expected for wall penetration through various building materials, and innovative solutions to get through lowE window glass continue to take shape.
o    In terms of latency (response time), we’re seeing under 10 milliseconds compared to 50 milliseconds on our LTE network, and it’s only going to get better.

  • While many in the industry talk of 5G being available in 2020, our first commercial launches are planned for  the second half of 2018. The commercial launch – 5G residential broadband delivered over fixed wireless technology, which is our first application and use case of 5G, is based on customer experience and on Verizon’s confidence in 5G technology powered by millimeter-wave spectrum. We are working closely with chipset manufacturers to accelerate standards adoption to use millimeter-wave spectrum for mobility.
  • Yesterday, to further advance this technology and innovation, we announced the creation of a 5G incubator/open innovation lab in New York City’s Silicon Alley that will house startups, accelerators and entrepreneurs focused on advancing this new technology and solutions with Verizon innovation, product and venture teams. Trials are beginning with an initial wave of 8 startup and academic partners. We expect the initiative to provide additional insights into the service and technology, new concepts and use cases.

Accelerated densification

We are the national leader in network densification – increasing network capacity through the deployment of additional fiber backhaul, small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS) and numerous in-building solutions. 

  • We have substantial small cell deployments in each of the top 25 markets and in 90% of the top 100 markets.

There when it really matters most…with leading edge technology for emergency first responders, consumers

Our engineers prepare year-round to ensure the nation’s most reliable network stays strong in the face of storms, earthquakes, wildfires and anything else – keeping people connected when they need it most.  

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated communities throughout the South and Puerto Rico, and wildfires destroyed record amounts of land in northern and southern California.

  • In the hardest hit areas of Texas after Harvey, more than 98 percent of our network facilities were in service during and shortly after the storm.
  • In Florida post-Irma, 90 percent of our facilities remained operational over the first days after the storm, and we were back to baseline performance within five days.
  • Backup batteries and generators kept sites on the air where commercial power was out, and massive refueling efforts began as soon as it was safe to do so, keeping those sites up and running.
  • We provided data relief to impacted customers and staged mobile cell sites, communications trailers and charging stations for residents in impacted communities.
  • Our network team made important breakthroughs in how emerging technologies are used in disaster response. We were the first provider to successfully test a large unmanned aerial vehicle providing airborne wireless connectivity during an exercise alongside emergency responders.
  • We used specially equipped aircraft to get a better view of cell sites in areas of northern California threatened by raging wildfires, and used smaller drones to inspect cell sites after Hurricane Harvey.
  • We donated more than $15 million overall – including $10 million for recovery efforts post-Harvey and Irma. More than 4,000 employees participated in the Hand-in-Hand telethon, helping take calls for hurricane-relief donations. The event raised $44 million.
  • We pledged grants of $5 million to fund Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Verizon engineers were on the ground for weeks assisting our roaming partners on the islands, offering support to carriers and coordinating with federal agencies.

o    We provided portable equipment, including generators, mobile cell sites and antennas, to our roaming partners, Claro and Open Mobile.
o    We donated a generator to the University of Puerto Rico.
o    And we donated 44 laptops to help local regulators bring Internet access to residents allowing them to apply for aid and communicate with friends and loved ones. The donation doubled the number of Internet access locations available to residents.

We provide the cutting-edge technology public safety officials and first responders use every day, and we’re right there beside them during times of crisis.

  • We’re the industry leader in public safety solutions with the greatest share of the public safety market and an extensive portfolio of enterprise-class networking, IT infrastructure, mobility, advanced communications, cybersecurity, and professional consulting capabilities.
  • We recently reaffirmed our long-term commitment to public safety by announcing our plan to build and operate a dedicated network core for public safety. This core will operate separately from Verizon’s commercial network, providing public safety operators with access to our extensive 2.56 million square mile nationwide LTE network. We’ll also offer priority access and preemption services to public safety when necessary at no charge.

Third party accolades continue to add up

We engineer our network for our customers, not to win accolades, but third-party awards continue to recognize our industry leadership.
  • In 2017, we were rated the best overall network performance and reliability 8 times in a row, and for the 7th consecutive time for fastest speeds in the latest RootMetrics’ drive testing report. 
  • Additionally, the latest J.D. Power wireless network study named Verizon best for a 19th consecutive time.

Special Events

We were there for our customers at major events, providing the connection attendees needed to share their special moments.

  • During the presidential inauguration, we used new self-optimizing technologies that allowed network engineers to make real-time adjustments, shifting wireless capacity as needed to serve the crowds as they moved. The network team used Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) antennas to remotely and dynamically change antenna angles. In addition, we used Matsing Ball technology to divide crowds into sectors like slices of a pie.  Each slice or sector was adjusted individually to best handle wireless traffic.
  • For the Super Bowl, we increased our wireless data capacity by 450% deploying 220+ permanent small cells, 24 Nodes on Wheels (NOWs), 23 new permanent cell sites, and 4G LTE Advanced technology.  Our network was used by 45% of Super Bowl attendees and provided the superior experience.

“Even by our own high standards, 2017 has been an incredible year for our network and team. We deliver predictable excellence for our customers, which means the most 4G LTE coverage, unrivaled reliability and the consistently fast speeds our customers need,” said Nicola Palmer, Chief Network Engineer and Head of Wireless Networks, Verizon.  “In 2018, you won’t see us settle for anything less than extension of the industry leadership and technological innovation we’re known for, being the first to deliver what’s next for our customers, partners and the public safety community.” 

Looking ahead, Verizon plans to continue to focus on innovation, investing in the latest technology and deploying its Intelligent Edge Network, which combines dense fiber, software defined networking (SDN) and high-capacity spectrum.


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