~ INTRODUCTION ~
Verizon Representatives Tom Brittingham, Solutions Architect, and Phill Reineke, Government Account Executive, teamed-up to present a Tech Talk on the topic of 5G; the next generation of cellular technology. Tom is based in the Portland Area and Phill is based in Hugo, north of Grants Pass. We appreciate both of them taking their personal time to explain this new technology to our group—and responding to questions.
NOTE: This wrapUp is presented in the narrative, and having a general identifier of Q: for a Question or C: for a Comment. Questions and Comments are italicized for easier reading.
~ TOM’S BACKGROUND ~
Tom’s work involves setting forth government channels; special projects. He’s part of the Network Team; talking about public safety and how Verizon organizes data, software solutions, security solutions. His domain is kind of all over the map… He’s sort of a generalist in the area of special solutions; the kind of the guy who ties all the solutions together [at the macro level.]
As Tom launched his slide deck, he talked about what he does for Verizon. The initial slide described the attributes and facets of Verizon’s 5G Network Strategy.
8 Attributes of a 5G Network built the right way:
4) Connected Devices
5) Energy Efficiency
6) Service Deployment (via Virtualization)
7) Data Volume
4 Facets of a 5G Network:
- Small Cell Deployment
- Millimeter (mm) Wave Spectrum
- Edge Computing
There’s a lot of talk these days about network advancements and public safety enhancements in the Verizon (VZ) Network, including the transition to 5G. Today’s talk focused on an overview of what 5G is, what the primary facets of 5G are, and where Verizon is headed with 5G…also a bit about current 4G technology and enhancements, with some specifics relating to Medford and the whole Rogue Valley, including Jackson County. Since this area is not a major market, the Rogue Valley is not going to be among the first markets like NY or LA. The good news: By the time 5G gets to Medford, the rollout will be fairly smooth.
Any questions before we begin?
Q: What are you projecting the timeline to be for 5G to arrive in our general area? Ballpark.
The VZ Network Planning Team is working on that, and a reasonable guess is: it might be about three years. There are different facets of 5G, and technical advancements that will happen in one to five years…over time…that’s a discussion. Today’s talk hit the highlights.
As you can imagine, there are some things that are proprietary and specific to Verizon. The first thing to touch on for 5G are the 8 attributes of 5G. The VZ Perspective is: they are standards-based; they work off the 5G 3GPP Global Standards (3rd Generation Partnership Project). [NOTE: For those of you with control concerns, you may want to read about the membership of 3GPP.] VZ follows the general network technologies as far as working with Ericsson, the different hardware vendors that make the equipment, and the FCC; but the point is: you don’t really have 5G unless you have the compilation of all 8 attributes.
~ THROUGHPUT ~
Throughput is the first attribute; the one you hear about the most. Right now, you’re probably going to get 30 down [30 Mbps download speed], if you’re in a good coverage area. 5G gets you to 50 Gbps down. This is a 100-plus increase in speed, in terms of throughput; that’s a huge difference in 5G. Before a discussion of 5G, the talk moved to 4G advancements.
4G LTE and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA)
One of the major ways that users will see significant advancements is through 4G LTE Advanced and through something called License Assisted Access (LAA). What that is, if you think of it from a WiFi or even networking concept, is a process of bonding multiple channels into one. VZ has about five different bands of the spectrum on which they operate 4G today, and what they can do is assign three bands to a user via carrier aggregation—which means three bands bonded into one—to give you clear throughput. They have the capacity to combine up to five—and then they can add an additional, unlicensed band to their five licensed bands. So they can actually take six aggregate bands and, instead of having 10-20 MHz, users can have 100+ MHz bandwidth, which is a bigger pipe for greater volume. VZ is implementing those advancements in their existing nationwide Big Red Map.
Q: Do you need special hardware to access that extra throughput?
The good news is that, if your handset is relatively new, it already has the necessary enhancements. VZ is making the tower enhancements that are going to project these new bands. What they’re doing is going around to their towers and changing-out the top of the radio head in that tower and that’s how those enhancements are being made. Nationwide. The planning documents, including schedules for when they are doing which tower are not public but users can typically notice when they were getting 10 down and now get 50, that’s probably what happened.
Q: That’s going to be rolled-out long before 5G?
Yes. And we’ll come back to that for further discussion, later.
~ LATENCY ~
The second major attribute is: Latency. The goal is to achieve real-time communications. The reason latency is so important is: if you want to have fully-autonomous cars…fully-autonomous drones…fully-autonomous systems…virtual reality…augmented reality…it’s gotta be in real-time; there can’t be a lag or a delay. We’re talking 10 milliseconds and under latency which is pretty close to completely real-time.
Q: Is that round-trip?
Q: Which end to which end; round-trip to the tower or core network or network server?
Not to the tower; that would be easy. All the way through to the network core and back.
Q: Why does it get faster?
There are a ton of enhancements that happen behind the scenes; that topic is not fun and exciting so it’s not presented here. VZ’s backhaul enhancements are as significant—or more significant—than the radio frequency enhancements. You can’t have a bottleneck anywhere—and that’s really the key.
The radio wave has to have the capacity (which includes the 5G NR [New Radio] and 4G enhancements), you need to have backhaul fiber from the tower to our switching centers, which are all over the nation and then from there, VZ already has that infrastructure in place for a core network. But you have to have them all. If you have any slowdown of data—which would happen if you had copper instead of fiber—that speedy transmission won’t happen. Good question!
~ MOBILITY ~
Mobility is the third attribute. This is all about the handoff from tower to tower, right now. There are limitations in 4G. Right now, VZ’s network core and some of the edge computing things that they’ll be doing will allow for devices to hand-off traffic at 500 mph from tower to tower to tower; it will typically be small-cell to small-cell. But just think about that, with regard to latency; everything’s essentially happening in real-time. So mobility is a huge component of that.
Q: Is that between 5G and 4G and 3G?
Yes…that’s going to get more technical but the answer is: yes, kind of.
Q. As you’re heading out of the city, for example.
Right. Yes. But then again, if you’re moving towards a 4G-centered world, you would move back to 4G standards in terms of hand-off, which is really fast right now. You can go probably 200 mph on 4G instead of 500. But yes, technically, you’d be moving back to 4G speeds.
Q: But you concede that it’s a handoff from 5G to 4G.
Yes, But that’s more of a core network evolution.
~ CONNECTED DEVICES ~
Connected Devices is a huge one. When you hear about 5G, one of the things you hear about is millions of devices per square kilometer, per square mile—one hundred times more connected devices per square mile than we have with 4G—in order to connect to the world of everything, which is kind of a feature with IoT; everything is connected. That’s where you’ll need to have the capacity in the network; not only the throughput capacity but the ability to connect to devices.Right now, 4G has limitations on how many devices can connect to each tower, even if it’s a small cell environment or a DAS (Distributed Antenna System) environment like the Superbowl or other large gathering. There are limitations on the number of devices that can connect to the network within that type of environment. So there are control points that can be manipulated with 5G that encompass those things that permit many more—an order of magnitude more—devices per square mile [than with 4G].
~ ENERGY EFFICIENCY ~
One thing that VZ doesn’t talk about that’s really important is: Energy Efficiency. And thathas a lot to do with both on the tower and on the device.The way that they transmit data on the device and on the tower is significantly more efficient. One of the ways that they do that, on some of the long-time IoT solutions, is to let the device go to sleep. The tower will actually let the device go to sleep and then wake up, transmit, and go back to sleep. But there are also ways that the energy transmissions are actually more efficient in communication between the device and the tower.
Q: Is this really a function of the fact that you have so many more cell sites, and the distances you’re trying to reach are much shorter?
Yes. That’s part of it.
Q: You need a lot less power to go 500 feet than a mile?
That’s part of it. Yes. Absolutely.
Well, there’s a big thing there that people aren’t thinking about. One of the big things VZ has done when they started thinking about gas meters and water meters around the city is: there’s no power. So use batteries. But batteries have about a 10-15 year life. Now, you’re looking at something that takes that 10-15 year life and extends it to 30 years. Huge difference. That’s where the energy consumption is a big play because it doesn’t make sense to replace a meter every ten years … Every 30? …Big difference.
Every modem essentially is going to be more efficient. 5G modems are going to be more efficient, especially on IoT where they have some more things to make them extra efficient. But we’re talking 1-5 years on battery life with 4G. With 5G, we’re talking 30 years, depending on how often it needs to connect.
Q: When did 4G come out?
Q: So that’s about 10 years.
Yes. And 3G was introduced about ten years before that.
Q: So, about every decade..
C: So, 4G hit the Rogue Valley about eight years ago.
When 4G first rolled-out, if you had a 4G phone, you were getting some phenomenal download speeds; like a freeway. The cellular network had a brand new [fast lane] and when you first got on that “freeway” and nobody else was on there, you had the space to travel 100 mph. Then, as more people got 4G phones, congestion happened. You’re going to see the same thing when 5G rolls out: the early adopters will realize faster speeds. Then over time and as more people get 5G, they move off of 4G, and 4G gets faster because of reduced traffic. Congestion is a huge issue on the networks. Six years ago, the average consumer used less than 2 gigs. Now, the average consumer is up to 8 or 9 gigabytes. That’s huge! If that was water, we’d be in trouble…if the average consumer used that much water, we’d never be able to make it.
~ VIRTUALIZATION ~
The next attribute is Virtualization; specifically, how VZ deploys the service. [See the Wireless Network Virtualization paragraph at the link.] This is probably the most important attribute because it ties together everything that is being discussed. There’s Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) [now Multi-access Edge Computing], which is essentially taking VZ’s Cloud and Switching Center Technology and pushing it as close to the edge as they can; pushing it closer to the towers.There will be environments where there will be 100 small cells that come back to one base, so instead of one tower to one base, there will be 100 towers to one base. All the RF spectrum will be available; very wide bandwidth for huge capacity. Fiber backhaul all the way back to the base and then back to the switch; again, all fiber. All of VZ’s hardware is being virtualized. All of VZ’s applications will be virtualized. Once you have this huge pipe, they can not only fill it up, they can customize how they can fill it up and how they can conserve public safety in cities and commercial entities, and everything that’s out there.
C: That’s really impressive that you can both cut latency and increase the virtualization.
~ DATA VOLUME ~
Data Volume is a really big attribute. This is really the driver that allows VZ to essentially deploy the future applications that will be available once the network is built. Then, just volume, volume, volume. The scale of this is: stadiums…10 terabytes per second per square kilometer volume. That’s unbelievable! Massive pipes of data so users can stream the Superbowl live. For large environments like the Superbowl, VZ builds-in Distributed Antenna Systems throughout the entire stadium; a bunch of small cells to create maximum capacity.
C: That’s one of the reasons the intercom people don’t use 2.4; it’s all gone.
~ RELIABILITY ~
The last attribute—the one Verizon’s famous for—is: Reliability.If the network’s not up-and-running, users can’t connect. This is a major attribute. That’s what VZ hangs their hat on today, and that will continue to be extremely important in 5G, going into the future.
C: There’s nothing more inherently reliable about 5G over 4G.
No. It’s the way they go about it. And, if you look at their switches in Eugene or Hillsboro where they have their two Oregon switches, those are very impressive. To have the uptime and performance that they have—and have had for the past 10 years—it comes down to the way they build the system, their reliability, the design of the network and their commitment to that network.
They offer tours of the switches. They will bring you down to the switches and go through and show you all the backup, everything they’re doing with the system. And the place is immaculate! Everything is just perfect! It is very impressive with the backup systems, and all. They have big fans so if the air conditioning system goes down, they can run fans and cool down the equipment for 10 days.
Q: Along that line, how much EMP resistance do you have?
Access to that information is not publicly available.
There’s a lot of hardened stuff in VZ’s system, because of the government stuff, that is not in other systems but corporate doesn’t go into any detail.
They are tied-in to FEMA, and with hurricanes [along the East Coast] every year and fires out here, they’re very much tied to all natural disasters. Some stuff is simply beyond the pay grade of today’s presenters. VZ brags about the general procedures but they partner with every government agency and a non-profit collective that is tied to FEMA as far as natural disaster response efforts. This is a huge part of what VZ does, as a company, in the government sector.
~ FOUR FACETS ~
A couple more things to touch on… There are four facets upon which VZ is building the eight attributes:
1. Fiber: This is a huge part of VZ’s current day activities but it’s an even bigger part of what’s coming out in the future. They’ve invested in buying fiber and putting that fiber in the ground. They’ve made some acquisitions of fiber locally. They still lease some backhaul assets but VZ’s goal is to own 100% of everything in their backhaul throughout the entire network. They also reach the world in their wire line assets but in their wireless backhaul, they own 80-90% of all the fiber out there. They want to own 100%; that’s their goal. With fiber, if they can control the entire environment, then they know they can deliver the performance they want to deliver with 5G. There’s a commitment to buying a ton of fiber on a long contract; make acquisitions.
2. Small Cells:With 5G, VZ has to have small cells everywhere because it’s a shorter distance band spectrum; they need to have that saturation for small cells.
3. Millimeter Wave Spectrum:Tied to these small cells is the actual spectrum itself: the millimeter (mm) wave spectrum. VZ strategically bought a bunch of this spectrum several years ago with the intention of not missing out. What they’re rolling out today has been in progress for 3-5 years so far. Long before people were talking about 5G, they were starting to plan for 5G.
4. Edge Computing:Virtualization; pushing as much to the edge [the creation point; e.g., an IoT Device] as possible and virtualizing all the hard functions of their network [performing computational processes] so they have all kinds of dynamic flexibility for services for whatever might be out there in the future. [NOTE: this means that data captured—e.g., by an IoT Device—may be manipulated by either hardware or software at a point closer to the capture point [the device] prior to it traveling long routes to data centers or clouds. In a Network World article from 2017, Brandon Butler writes that one manager at IDC [redicts that “…as telecom providers build 5G into their wireless networks they will increasingly add micro-data centers that are either integrated into or located adjacent to 5G towers. Business customers would be able to own or rent space in these micro-data centers to do edge computing, then have direct access to a gateway into the telecom provider’s broader network, which could connect to a public IaaS cloud provider.” Think about that… The scope… The potential…]
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the characteristics of the coverage? For example, in our jail, we cannot get the coverage; the faster the speeds get, the harder that problem becomes.
That’s just the electromagnetic spectrum. VZ operates in 700, 1800, 1900, 2100; those are the normal 3G and 4G bands that you’re familiar with today. And all the carriers are somewhere in that range. The mm wave spectrum is 27 GHz and actually ranges from 24 to 50, and VZ owns 27 so these are very high frequencies; extremely wide bandwidth with very short distance; it doesn’t go through buildings as well. What VZ is doing though is what they call dynamically-shared spectrum which is where they can share 4G spectrum with 5G; they can deploy 4G and 5G on the same spectrum. Dynamically-shared Spectrum. VZ will eventually be able to push 5G across the full band of the spectrum that they own. Right now, they’re starting in this millimeter wave [5G] because 4G is pretty much at capacity; people are pushing too much data.
Now just so you know, VZ has in the past…they used to take a Samsung network extender; this does both data and cell [voice]. That is kind of like the small-cell deployment. As long as you have backhaul, VZ can put these [network extenders] in those locations and it will fix that problem.
VZ has an in-building team. They’re building essentially a small cell which you can buy, and you put it in the building and use your ISP backhaul. But there’s the full in-building solutions that you can get.
Q: I have a question. I learned a new thing this week: there’s a product called hempcrete which is intended to be a replacement for concrete in building. Apparently, hempcrete is stronger, lighter, and more environmentally-friendly than concrete. So, here’s my question: Is that something that would help in a situation where you’ve got waves that are trying to get through a building and get blocked? Is it possible that this environmentally-friendly product will cause less interference?
Hard to say…And the reason, from the way the waves work, is it’s not always the density, it’s the amount of [material]. Inside a building, there’s not only one wall, there might be 20 walls that can block the signal. And they all have steel in them.
The other problem you have with these things is: location. Because of the local topology, which is beautiful, this area is quite hilly and mountainous. As a wave travels over a hill, the wave will be reduced in the adjacent valley.
Q: Related to coverage, it’s my understanding that you’re doing a lot more smaller low-energy coverage. How does that work in the high-density transition zones like the edge of town or up the I-5 corridor? Do you switch over to 4G?
That’s a good question; especially for Southern Oregon. What’s really rolling out now is kind of a bleeding-edge metro area: Superbowl. VZ just announced this morning that they’re rolling Live 5G in 13 NFL Stadiums this year; in fact, it’s already there. Where there are a ton of people, they’re pushing this 5G, which is a millimeter wave spectrum—a really high band. Out here in reality, in the rest of the world, they are figuring out what that looks like. What they’ll do is push mm wave spectrum in metro areas and users will fall back to 4G in the rural areas and eventually, users will have that DSS (Dynamically Shared Spectrum) where 5G can be distributed across the 4G spectrum. But that will be a convergence over time and right now, when users are in a 5G area, you’ll have 5G capacity and speed. When users move out to rural areas, they’ll have 4G. But 4G…early in this presentation, there was a discussion about 4G enhancements and how there’s a lot going on there with channel bonding—taking multiple-band spectrums and bonding them into one—and instead of 10 MHz, you’ll have 100 MHz spectrum so users get a lot more throughput. Those enhancements are going on now.
Q: Given that, for each advancement in speed, you get smaller signal… you’ll probably never ever see 5G out in rural areas.
Eventually 5G signal will replace everything, just like 4G will eventually replace 3G.
Q: Isn’t some of it coming from satellite, eventually?
No, probably not—for this component of it. There will be a blended version of it which can be touched on, but eventually 5G will cover every band of the spectrum…this is about 10-12-15 years out.
Q: Right, but you have to have regular density for small sites?
Eventually, the lower band spectrums will be used for 5G.
C: So, one of the good things is: Let’s say we have 5G in Medford and Downtown Ashland, and then you start heading to the outskirts…when you connect to that 4G…you take the college, the high school, all those people are on 5G, so now, that 4G band … you’re pumping 50MB, which you’re fine with … there’s nothing you’re running that’s not going to deal with that. I think the big picture is that, as 5G rolls out, it’s going to take so much load off that rural 4G that we’re going to see rural 4G actually do what we need it to do.
There’s a network evolution going on and, if you want to look at the year 2030 or 2035, somewhere in that time span, let’s think about 3G CDMA Shutdown… VZ is going to shut that off, at the end of next year. 3G. What they’ve been doing is re-farming that spectrum so 90% of that spectrum is now on 4G LTE today and there’s only about a 10% sliver of that spectrum that still operates in the City of Medford region. But that process will not take place until about 2030 or so.
Right now, what we’re looking at is that blended, Dynamically-Shared Spectrum and moving traffic off of some of the 4G spectrum today, onto 5G spectrum, kind of doing that dance… And then, all the virtualization and back end stuff and the edge computing so it’s kind of an evolution of the network.
C: 5G is where the market is.
Well, it’s both. It’s both the technical …
C: The distance limitations … the smaller cells just don’t know it’s fine … how much of that is a factor in 5G technology vs. the prevailing…[unintelligible] … frequencies.
It’s kind of both. 5G is a technical spec just like WiFi or any kind of I.T. thing. Of course there are companies that are going to market 5G, but that’s not a consideration, right now. There will really be that evolution of the network into 5G. It’s going to be pockets in very short distance millimeter wave spectrum, and it’s back-and-forth.
Q: People living out in rural areas with old-fashioned analog cell phones could get service down at the bottom of the line but, as the technology got better, they got better service. Is that going to happen on the data side, where we’re making things better unless you live out in the sticks and then you just don’t have anything?
Yes. There is going to be reception. There will always be pockets where that will be true. If you look at VZ’s Big Red Map, their 3G Red Map is actually a smaller footprint than their current 4G. They actually have 500,000 square miles more of coverage with 4G than they ever did with 3G. They actually have more coverage, but that doesn’t mean that where one user is located they have more coverage. There might be a situation where a user had 3G and now they have nothing but there’s 500,000 square miles that has 4G but never had 3G.
Q: But the other thing you have to consider is—because I live in the sticks—those towers that were 3G, whoever owns the tower, 3G’s going away. Either that tower converts to 4G or it’s nothing…it’s something to rust. So, as we were relying on 3G and that’s going away, relying on that is not convenient. Now we have a tower that’s going to 4G or it’s rust. So, which one is it?
Users are going to see 4G expand out into those areas because something’s going to happen. 4G actually travels farther than 3G; 4G LTE actually travels farther than 3G. The problem is that, in order to have a 4G tower, there are other requirements that have to happen: power, certain connections, things like that. Users are going to see some of those updates. They’re simply concentrating more on 4G and 5G than they are on 3G.
Q: What’s LTE?
Long Term Evolution.
LTE is 4G; they’re the same thing. On the spectrum part of it. That’s a good question. It comes down to what band of the spectrum you’re operating in. The CDMA spectrum actually operated on 850 and 1900. And the lower the band, the farther it goes right? So, VZ actually operated 700 which is lower than 3G…their base 700 MHz. They also have 1900, 2100; it’s kind of a higher bandwidth spectrum than they use in the metropolitan areas, predominantly. But the 700 MHz 4G signal is actually longer; it’s a lower MHz signal than 700 that actually travels a little farther than their 3G. Exact speeds and latency may vary.
C: If I may, there are two things that affect speed. One is the frequency; the lower the frequency, the better. The other is the data rate; the higher the volume of data, the shorter the range. As you increase the amount of information, the level of signal required to send that information is higher; it’s one of those physics law things…so what happens is…I’m assuming you guys have the ability to fallback…
Imagine a heavier ball … it’s not going to go as far…with more data…
There are going to be some limitations, based upon the data rate as well as the frequency rate. When we move 5G down to 700 MHz, you can expect a distance hit.
Q: Because of latency?
C: No. Because of the volume of data. It takes more energy to pump more data … think about water. If I want to pump a gallon of water, it takes more energy to pump 500 gallons in a minute.
C: Think of throwing a baseball compared to a bowling ball. There’s a lot more data in it but I can’t throw it as far. It takes a lot more energy.
C: And, it’s weird, because a network guy and I couldn’t figure out … you have a 4G tower and here’s its range, and when it’s congested, it shrinks its range. So, you might have a spot that, at 1:00 a.m., it’s range is large. At 3:00 p.m., when kids get out of high school, you have nothing because, as capacity goes, it can only go so far. This is where 5G really is a huge deal is because if I put a 5G in Downtown Medford, it takes the two high schools off 4G, it takes that 4G out 10-15 miles because it doesn’t have the load. That’s the big thing we’re going to see is 5G is going to actually offload to give us that range back that we had three years ago.
Within the 5G specs, they do things like beam forming and a bunch of different technologies that aren’t included in these slides…there’s a 95-page tech spec you can download that gets into how they do the beam forming and how they send the signal.
Q: I’m getting the impression this is more complicated than what I’m reading in Ars Technica.
Q: I have a question about beam forming. Is this where you have a whole bunch of beams coming into one antenna and then it’s redirecting them? Here’s my question: are they sending those out in parallel? Are they [the beams] the same beam and they are seeing which one gets there first? Or is it one segmented beam and it’s reconstructed, as with [I.P.] packets?
Beam forming is like … imagine one of those flashlights you can focus the beam narrowly or widely … so, beam forming , the antenna allows you to change the direction and width of the beam to accommodate what you need to accommodate.
C: Let’s just say you need to highlight the very corner of the room, not just the whole room, I can shoot that whole beam specifically to the device I need it to get to instead of simply broadcasting it out to the whole area.
Q: But you’re always sending just one stream of data?
It’s multiple streams formed and shoved into the same stream…pointed to the same area.
Q: Are they serial?
C: They’re running in parallel. It’s a technology called MIMO (Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output)[Very worth your time to read this linked information.] The idea is … let’s say I’m trying to talk to you at high speeds. High speeds are tough. It’s a difficult situation. The environment’s bad. If I put ten beams on you and, at any given time, eight out of the ten are working, I can tolerate a lot of problem because I’ve got 80% of stuff working…as opposed to if I put one beam on you that fails half the time … so I split…
Q: I’m trying to equate beams to a string of data. Is that a mistake?
C: So, I’ve got 10 strings of data…
C: And, I can tolerate losing several of them…
So we’re going to miss some of the communication?
C: But it doesn’t matter because the system puts it all back together at the other end.
OK. Is that happening in a packet configuration? Like, this is Segment One, this is Segment Two, etc?
C [Exasperated]: Yes. Pretty much everything is packetized.
OK. Thank you.
[This discussion triggered some research…From Wikipedia: “Beamforming is a signal processing technique used in sensor arrays for directional signal transmission or reception. This is achieved by combining elements in an antenna array in such a way that signals at particular angles experience constructive interference while others experience destructive interference.” So, the “packetizing” concept is achieved by “intelligent” interference, not by encapsulating data and headers that contain source and destination intelligence to direct the movement (or, routing) of the payload, as with Internet Protocol, which is the framework the question was based upon. Learned another new thing, today!]
To touch on this really quick…the point is, once VZ builds out all this network currently under discussion, it will then enable a whole new suite of applications that can be built and used to change the way we all live, in the same way that your 3G phone…you would have hated your Facebook experience but when 4G came out, all of a sudden lots of new applications came out. The network enabled the modern smartphone applications. Really, it was the application providers that largely benefitted from 4G LTE.
This new network will obviously still allow those same kind of apps to run but they will be super easy, by comparison to what would be the futures of some of those apps; some would be smart community type of stuff where you’re looking at intelligent video, intelligent parking, smart community, traffic, augmented reality… On the public safety front, there’s augmented reality for different types of things. Connected drones. Connected vehicles. The next generation…and currently-unknown and not-yet imagined applications that will come out just like they never knew the apps that would be produced for smart phones. Public safety is a huge focus for Verizon, as a company. That was mentioned earlier but the next generation of public safety is going to come out…cameras on officers, all kinds of stuff. And, VZ does a lot with public safety, in general. This discussion is not going to go into detail on public safety, but this is an overview of public safety offerings.
Oh, then there’s satellite. One of the things cool is: you can actually buy—or lease—a satellite backhaul; this is a little antenna that goes up and, at the bottom is actually a small cell in this trailer and the antenna will actually go up 30 feet or so. Up to 64 devices can be attached to this tower and use satellite for backhaul. You can literally go to the middle of nowhere—anywhere where you have no coverage…
Backhaul is simply a term that we use that goes from the tower back to the switching centers. But, if you don’t have fiber in the ground, VZ can’t get the signal back anywhere so it’s useless.
C: It’s creating a satellite cell tower.
Backhaul is VZ’s fiber in the ground.
C: This has a generator?
It has a generator; it’s a self-contained, self-powered unit with satellite for connectivity back to our data center.
C: OK. Cool.
Q: How much?
[Buzz about pricing.]
C [Sarcastically.]: Sign up for a Family Plan, you get a free one.
Just so you know, VZ does offer leasing, they do have an option to buy. Their experience is that counties get together and decide to purchase one of these. Because their fear is that if something major happens, they’re prepared. Here in Jackson County, if our equipment [switches, etc.] is in Eugene and Portland, and the state gets hit, they’re not coming down here. Or, they might not even be able to get to the roads. So if you had one here, you could move that to whatever location or you could get it to a command center and open it up and you have access for 64 devices.
It’s an emergency response device. Either you commit and buy one for use during fire season or whatever…you wouldn’t have to wait for an earthquake. It’s finally available for purchase. VZ has these kinds of assets and now they’re finally available for purchase or lease.
And VZ does have those assets available, so if there’s a fire…something like Paradise [the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA], they roll the device to the location free of charge. If they know in advance there’s going to be some event that will stress the network, they can bring those out to the location.
As long as the discussion focuses on emergency and disaster response, there’s a .pdf version of this, where you can read all the details. But VZ has a 1-800 number that’s live 24/7 that any agency can call for disaster response and these teams are actually tied to local resources in the Pacific NorthWest—two person teams that are dedicated on-call 24/7—that are paired-up with emergency response teams. You can call it at any time. VZ has different types of satellite backhaul assets.
A video was played that demonstrated the portable emergency response unit in action.
[Narration from Video]
Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, CA, near the recent Camp Fire; the most destructive and deadly fire that has ever hit California. We did have some fiber issues in the area and, also, some cell sites took a hit and received some fire damage. Once the area is safe, the men and women of System Performance and Network Assurance can enter the area and do an assessment, and then bring replacement technologies into that area.
Today, we are in Paradise, CA. Behind me, we have our network team setting up a satellite COW (Cell On Wheels). The fiber optic cable was damaged in the fire and it’s being replaced with a satellite dish. It is so important that we are able to very quickly bring the network back up because the public safety agencies are relying on us to be able to come in here and do their work in putting out the fire and keeping everyone safe.
[Cheer] One! Two! Three! Chico!
Since the fire started, it got super busy in here; everyone was asking what they can do to help. Getting people connected and reuniting people with their family members. It feels good to feel like you are doing something to make a difference.
It happened so fast. I made phone calls to make sure other people nearby got out. I was worried about the cell towers going down, but it all worked. Cell phones saved lives because people could just call and coordinate. You can get on the road. I feel lucky to be alive. So, it’s all good.
For the immediate needs, we’re supporting the evacuation centers. Mostly, people just need a place to lay their head and some food to eat while they figure out their next move. A $100,000.00 donation goes a long way for us with our work in our evacuation centers; a donation of that size potentially gives us the ability to serve and keep the doors open at ten evacuation centers which serves countless people in the area. [Verizon donated $100,000.00 to the rescue effort.]
We are running to this crisis; there is no question about it. And we will continue to do so. We’ll stay here as long as it takes to keep the first responders and our customers connected to the Verizon network.
Verizon loves that video. This is why VZ promotes tech talks like the one today. They’re really tied to emergency response and FEMA and all the disaster recovery stuff. They love this stuff—and this is normal. Those two guys on the video, Curtis and Paul, are VZ representatives for NorCal, and they have two others in the Northwest. They have phones and jet packs [dedicated mobile hot spots] they can give out. Charging stations. Equipment that lets people connect to family members and loved ones, or get online.
For the Weed Fire, a few years back, Verizon actually rolled a full semi-truck full of equipment. Doesn’t matter whether you are a Verizon Customer or not. You can call who you need to call. If you need an Internet connection for your computer, you need to get online, you need to find people, you need to charge your phone…all that is part of VZ’s disaster response effort. And that’s all free. They respond to a lot of those things as they happen.
The other big one is public safety. Verizon has started working…so they now have, for public safety—fire, county, it’s a long list—even government officials who need priority data, they can connect to the network; they’re going to get priority data on what’s going on. So, if you have any questions about any of that, reach out to us. There’s a lot going on on the government side to keep that connectivity going on.
Thanks, Tom and Phill! This presentation was very informative!
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