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Verizon’s C-Band Timeline

Earlier this week, Verizon shared a press release detailing the company’s plans for deploying C-band equipment. As the equipment is deployed, Verizon will start making use of a huge swath of C-band spectrum it recently spent over $45 billion acquiring.

Some of the spectrum still needs to be cleared by previous holders. Further, it will take Verizon some time to roll out its new equipment. Here’s what Verizon’s deployment targets look like right now:

  • March 2022: 100 million people covered
  • 2023: More than 175 million covered
  • 2024+: Over 250 million covered

That’s based on this bit from Verizon’s press release:

Although the initial spectrum won’t be cleared until the end of this year, Verizon and its vendor partners have already begun the work to ensure the super-fast 5G Ultra Wideband service using C-band is deployed to 100 million customers by March 2022…In the first quarter of 2022, Verizon expects to put into service the new 5G C-band spectrum in the initial 46 markets and to provide 5G Ultra Wideband service to 100 million people. Over 2022 and 2023, coverage is expected to increase to more than 175 million people and by 2024 and beyond, when the remaining C-band spectrum is cleared, more than 250 million people are expected to have access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service on C-band spectrum.
Crystal ball

Prediction: Verizon Will Offer C-Band Service To Everyone

Verizon won a bunch of spectrum in the recent C-Band Auction. That spectrum will be deployed over the next few years and will soon form a core part of Verizon’s network.

Eli Blumenthal, a reporter for CNET, recently shared this tweet:

I’m betting Verizon won’t stick to this policy over the long term. The new C-band spectrum is going to be extremely useful for Verizon when managing performance on its capacity-constrained network. If Verizon artificially limits C-band access to a minority of its customers, the company won’t be able to use the spectrum as efficiently as possible.

While I expect limiting C-band access will eventually become costly for Verizon, it’s not too costly yet. There are two main reasons:

  1. C-band spectrum will take a while to deploy (much of the spectrum won’t even be available to Verizon until 2023).
  2. At the moment, C-band is only supported by a handful of top-of-the-line phones. People with new, fancy phones almost certainly subscribe to Verizon’s premium plans at a disproportionate rate.

The situation will change as more C-band spectrum is deployed and C-band compatibility becomes a standard feature on nearly all phones. As that happens, I expect Verizon will open up C-band access to almost all of its direct subscribers as well as subscribers with Verizon’s flanker brands and Verizon-powered MVNOs.