EJL Wireless Research has published a case study for Verizon’s initial 5G mmWave network deployment in Minneapolis. The report analyzes four neighborhoods within the central city. Earl Lum, principal analyst of EJL Wireless, surveyed a limited number of sites in the downtown and surrounding areas, identifying the issues and complications from deploying a mmWave small cell network in an urban setting.

“The study of the Minneapolis 5G mobile network correlates with our previous findings for the Sacramento and Los Angeles 5G fixed networks and continues to highlight serious issues regarding the deployment of 5G mmWave small cells. We believe that Verizon Wireless is having serious difficulties in gaining access to street light poles and utility poles in cities and it is significantly slowing down the deployment plans for 5G launches in other metro markets scheduled for 2019.” — Earl Lum

Verizon’s 5G mobile service was launched on April 3, 2019 in Minneapolis and Chicago. Verizon’s fixed wireless access 5G service, using the company’s proprietary, pre-3GPP standard, was launched in October, 2018, in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Sprint has launched 5G mobile service on their 2.5 GHz spectrum, using traditional macro towers rather than small cell sites, which provides wider coverage from each base station. Despite criticizing AT&T and Verizon for the poor coverage of mmWave services, T-Mobile recently launched a similar 5G service using mmWave spectrum in portions of Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York.

With the conclusion of the FCC’s 28 GHz auction (101) on January 24 and the 24 GHz auction (102) on May 29, deployment of 5G networks for both FWA and mobility services will be a key focus for mobile operators in the U.S. in 2019. Lum said he believes small cell siting regulations and laws will remain unclear through the remainder of 2019 as 5G deployments continue, which may limit the pace of deployment.

The Verizon case study is available through the EJL Wireless website.