Verizon’s latest 5G upgrade just picked up another boost. On Monday the nation’s largest wireless carrier announced that it has reached agreements with satellite companies allowing it access to more C-band spectrum this year.
After a battle with airlines and the aviation industry, Verizon began deploying midband C-band spectrum (part of what it calls “5G Ultra Wideband”) in January. The carrier now covers over 100 million people with the faster 5G airwaves which it says can provide average download speeds of 300Mbps (with peaks of 1Gbps) to those with compatible devices and one of the carrier’s pricier, recent unlimited data plans. It’s also available to those with Verizon’s 5G home internet service.
At its annual investor day earlier this month, the company updated its goals for the network build and announced it was aiming to cover 175 million people with its faster flavors of 5G in 2022.
While the carrier did not reveal any expansion on that number, Monday’s announcement shows that it is getting access to more spectrum faster than originally planned. The company previously was aiming to be able to use this spectrum at the end of 2023 after spending $53 billion to acquire the airwaves last year.
On Monday, Luxembourg-based satellite company SES announced that it will get $170 million from Verizon for clearing out some of its C-band holdings on a faster schedule.
Existing users of C-band need to vacate the spectrum before wireless companies can begin offering 5G services over the airwaves. The original C-band auction rules by the FCC had incumbent C-band holders needing to clear out of some of the spectrum by last December, with the second phase of clearing due by Dec. 5, 2023.
Verizon says the additional spectrum will bring improvements to “at least 30 additional major market areas” including Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Denver.
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