This report focuses on the Verizon Wireless 5G NR millimeter wave (Band n257) network. Verizon currently uses a single 100 MHz channel for uplink data transmissions while downlink transmissions continue to use 400 MHz of spectrum (4, 100 MHz channels).
Highlights of the Report include the following:
- Our Thanks. We did this study in collaboration with Accuver Americas and Spirent Communications who provided us with their respective test equipment and platforms, which we identify in the report. SRG did all the testing and analysis of the data and we are solely responsible for the commentary in the report.
- Our Methodology. We did walk and drive testing in downtown Minneapolis, as well as LTE testing outside of the downtown area. We used a single Galaxy S10 Plus smartphone while testing and filtered the results to isolate those instances when the radio bearer was 5G NR versus LTE (primarily Band 4, 20 MHz FDD).
- Uplink Speeds Meet Expectations. Although average 5G NR uplink speeds were below LTE, the peak speeds greatly favored 5G NR (Average Application Layer throughput = 103 Mbps in a stationary 2-minute test). VZ has a stellar LTE network in downtown Minneapolis, largely because of small cells and the work required to deploy 5G NR. These results also indicate LTE spectral efficiency was better than 5G NR, but the lower spectral efficiency for 5G NR is more than offset by the amount of unused spectrum that is available at 28 GHz.
- Energy Efficiency Results were Mixed. Consistent with last year's study, LTE had higher energy efficiency with low bit rate applications and when the smartphone is in idle mode. Conversely, with high bit rate data transfers the advantage strongly favored 5G NR.
- Millimeter Wave Resiliency. We remain impressed with the resiliency of millimeter wave signals and their ability to reflect off buildings, thereby providing at least some coverage in the opposite direction from where the 5G NR radio is facing. The dense cell grid also meant that multiple physically-separated 5G NR cell sites could (and did) provide coverage to the same location.
- Downlink and Mobility Management. Although it wasn't the focus of our study we did identify performance gains with respect to the downlink (faster data speeds) and mobility management, or the time required for the smartphone to transition between 5G NR PCIs. "Real" handovers are not supported since the phone does an NSA RRC Connection each time.