The Achilles heel of mmWave networks like Verizon's, is their miniscule coverage. Base stations have to be situated every 1000 feet or so in dense urban areas, whereas Sprint's mid- and T-Mobile's low- and mid-bands can produce signal that travels much farther.
What's more, while Verizon's Ultra Wideband (UWB) mmWave network offers the fastest speeds and thus marketing bombast at the initial rollout, the spectrum has very low penetration rates.
Taunting Verizon over its 5G network is T-Mobile's favorite pastime
To solve the mmWave penetration puzzle, Verizon has teamed up with Samsung (for the indoor base stations), and Corning (for the fiber optic) in test setups that it says will offer all the advantages of its UWB network - high speeds, load, and low latency - indoors.
Specifically, Verizon mentions hospitals, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, schools, ports, retail stores and more, or places that need connectivity, and fast. Its 5G station partnership with Samsung is going into the indoor direction now, albeit still in the lab test phase. According to Magnus Ojert, Vice President, Networks Division, Samsung Electronics America:
Somewhat paradoxically, 5G needs cable. Lots and lots of fiber optic cable that needs to be laid in the ground by good old-fashioned ditch-digging. Short of the national highway system and the railroad tycoon era, 5G may turn out to be one of America's grandest infrastructure undertakings, with assorted carrier base stations on or in buildings, and even lamp posts.
Here's where Corning comes into play with an oven-ready 5G mmWave dispersing kit that Verizon says has undergone trials in the "test lab in Westlake, TX and has begun field testing in a live network environment." As per Michael Bell, senior VP of Corning Optical Communications:
There you have it, while Verizon is amassing spectrum for its neglected low and mid 5G bands, expected to light up later this year, it is simultaneously addressing the range and penetration shortcomings of its ultrafast mmWave network, too.