Verizon completed a proof of concept at its facilities in Richardson, Texas, showcasing a new multi-unit internet solution that could expand the addressable homes and business that can be served with its vast millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings.

Verizon said the point-to-multipoint (P2MP) architecture is specifically designed for multi-dwelling units (MDUs), such as apartment buildings and town-homes, and distributed enterprise campuses and high rises. It uses Verizon’s licensed 37-39 GHz spectrum.

The carrier said it’s putting out RFPs for specialized radio access equipment to work in this spectrum and expects to continue developing the technology throughout the year.

According to Verizon, its recent demonstration in Texas showcased an architectural design that’s less expensive to build, quicker to deploy and addresses the unique complexities of distributed end users in a single facility or small area, such as a residential unit with a large population. If that’s the case, it would certainly seem to increase the value of its mmWave spectrum.

All three of the big wireless carriers hold mmWave licenses, but Verizon by far holds more than AT&T and T-Mobile. However, investment analysts have been particularly negative on its prospects given the short distances the mmWave signals travel and traditionally higher costs to deploy.

Demo details

Getting more into the nitty-gritty of the demo, Verizon said an airlink over licensed mmWave spectrum was established between a centralized, rooftop radio site and a radio sitting on top of a simulated multi end-point building. The signal was then transmitted via coaxial cable throughout the building to a data processing unit along with a corresponding modem. From there, the building’s existing wiring transported the signal to end user routers that provided broadband coverage throughout the simulated distributed end points.

Instead of transmitting the data through Verizon’s 4G LTE and 5G wireless cores, this particular architecture uses a simplified Broadband Network Gateway to direct traffic to and from the internet using Verizon’s public IP network, according to the operator. Suffice it to say, that means this kind of data traffic will not add load on Verizon’s current wireless cores – while at the same time providing “excellent capacity and latency,” Verizon stated.

“Verizon has been building the infrastructure and assets for years to make this new design possible,” said Adam Koeppe, SVP of Technology Planning for Verizon, in a statement. “Leveraging our significant fiber footprint in over 70 major markets nationwide and large amounts of ready-to-use mmWave spectrum, this new architecture means we will be able to provide point-to-multipoint architecture in a cost effective and efficient way.”

Verizon didn’t suggest specifically how much this P2MP technology could reduce the cost of providing broadband to many locations. However, it noted that depending on the various designs of buildings, running fiber connections to individual buildings and individual units within buildings may entail “complex licensing, significant capital investments, long lead times” and can be disruptive. So, using air links and established indoor cabling might be an appealing alternative.

The carrier said applications for this type of point-to-multipoint mmWave-based technology could include distributed enterprise campuses, commerce areas, home broadband for MDUs or other areas where air links could easily connect donor sites in the Radio Access Network (RAN) to facilities with their own internal infrastructure.

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