Verizon gains full access to C-band after satellite exodus


The operator has gained access to all of the spectrum it purchased at auction roughly four months ahead of schedule

Back in 2021, Verizon paid a whopping $45.5 billion at auction for 5G spectrum in the C-band, planning on using it at the backbone of their national 5G network.

However, there was a catch: some of the spectrum was currently being used by satellite operators, like Intelsat and SES, to provide video and radio services.

Thankfully, this issue had been foreseen well in advance by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which had introduced a plan in 2020 offering the satellite players incentives totalling almost $10 billion to clear the C-band spectrum quickly by December 2023. Since then, most satellite operators have moved swiftly to migrate their services off the C-band and therefore collect the sizable payouts.

Now, the roughly four months before the deadline for the satellite players to shift their services, Verizon has announced that the migration process is complete, and it now has access to the entirety of its C-band spectrum holdings.

As a result, it will begin to rollout the additional spectrum across the country, noting that this will allow 5G customers in some parts of the country double or even triple the current bandwidth.

“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,” said Joe Russo, EVP & President of Global Networks and Technology for Verizon. “The more spectrum we deploy on our network, the more capacity we add for our customers to connect.”

Making use of the newly freed-up spectrum is seemingly a simple task, with the operator’s existing 5G RAN only requiring a simple software update to integrate the additional airwaves.

Verizon had initially deployed 60MHz of C-band spectrum across 46 markets in 2022, a total that slowly expanded as the satellite operators gradually migrated away from the C-band. Now, full access to the company’s C-band holdings means the operator can provide a minimum of 140MHz of spectrum across the contiguous US, with an average of 161MHz.

In 158 markets in the US ­­– covering almost 40 million people – customers will have access to the full 200MHz of spectrum.

What impact will additional C-band spectrum have on 5G consumers in the US? Join the discussion at Connected America 2024, live in Dallas, Texas

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