Nicola Palmer 200 "We have sufficient spectrum holdings below 1 GHz," says Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer. "We have strong spectrum holdings in the 700, 850, 1900 megahertz (MHz)/PCS, AWS 1 and 3 spectrum bands. So why didn’t we bid on the 600 MHz spectrum? We simply don’t need it."

Verizon has 40 MHz of fallow spectrum ready for 4G, enough to move from two bands of 20 MHz to four bands and roughly double capacity. Palmer points out 3G traffic is dwindling rapidly, allowing VZ to refarm 3G spectrum.
Refarming would allow five band aggregation without any new spectrum. Five band is still in testing, but SKT and T-Mobile are hopeful for this year. Verizon most places uses 40 MHz (two bands.) An additional 40 MHz is currently available across most of the country. They will soon be able to use the 80 MHz for four bands. Palmer added Verizon will have more spectrum from refarming, almost certainly enough for a 10 MHz fifth band and probably 20 MHz. 
Beyond that, I believe Massive MIMO with 32+ antennas is probably the logical next step. They would need to use a sixth band for any new spectrum, but as far as I know no one is bringing six band to market. They also now can use LAA in 3.5 GHz and 5 GHz (the Wi-Fi band,) technology in advanced testing. That will make hundreds of MHz soon available. Capital spending and how much they can sell are the main limits on what Verizon builds; spectrum is secondary.
In the same blog post (below,) Palmer reveals Verizon has deployed, "4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM." Four bands, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM combine for Gig LTE, roughly 3x or 4x what they report today. Verizon has been so focused on promoting the mmWave they've rarely provided the information about their other projects. LTE will be more important until ~2020. It will probably still carry the majority of traffic in a decade at most telcos, possibly including Verizon. 
It was extremely difficult to find anything about their 4x4 MIMO or 256 QAM, including whether their deployment is wide or extremely limited. Mike Dano and Karl Bode caught a  4x4 reference I missed. Diana Goovaerts noticed the 256 QAM in an FCC filing. I believe I'm the only one to report Verizon's Massive MIMO, Those four references are dwarfed by the hundreds of references to Verizon 5G mmWave.
The marketing emphasis has created a great deal of confusion. FCC Commissioners Rosenworcel & Pai spoke as if 5G is only millimeter wave. Massive MIMO will be more important for several years and in many places. M-MIMO at three gigabits is expected this year. That's "5G" by any meaningful definition. (Verizon's not the only one spreading confusion on this. I'm backing away from the name to the new because "5G" is becoming meaningless.)
Even with "unlimited" offerings, Verizon is confident that will be more than enough for a robust network until 5G is ready. Besides the gig from the towers, they are installing small cells aggressively where needed, running in 4G mode for mobile. With a gig of 4G LTE from each, small cells can be a highly targeted and surprisingly cheap build. From 2018, most will also feature 5G mmWave fixed wireless, probably a shared 5 gigabit. Verizon believes they will win customers from cable, delivering a gig to most homes most of the time. 
The radios will almost surely be designed to upgrade to mobile 5G millimeter wave when ready, 2019-2022. That would add gigabits of capacity to each small cell, probably unmatched by any others.
Lowell McAdam, CEO, has realistic plans to have the best network in the world in five years. 
"Gig LTE" is a gigabit to the cell site, not individual phones.

Unparalleled network leadership by doing

By Nicola Palmer

5G Wireless technology is coming to America. And Verizon is leading the way, establishing the infrastructure that will allow businesses, government agencies, educational institutions and consumers to take advantage of this new technology. 5G won’t be a wireless “evolution,” with better speeds and feeds, but a true revolution changing the way we work, interact, learn and play.

To meet and anticipate the needs of American consumers and businesses, Verizon has already built the largest, most reliable 4G LTE network, through the aggressive deployment of new technologies like LTE Advanced and being the first to launch Cat-M for IoT, by being a global leader in network densification – steadily increasing the capacity of our network through the largest deployment of small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and numerous in-building solutions – and through the strategic use of spectrum.

We’ve deployed multiple LTE Advanced features on our network: carrier aggregation, 4 x 4 MIMO and 256 QAM already contribute to our unparalleled, award-winning network performance. And we’ve led the charge in harnessing unlicensed spectrum with our pioneering work on LTE-U and 3.5 GHz. By design and with consistent investment over time, we are in a great position to continue to provide the best network experience, and to further extend our lead.

We have strong spectrum holdings in the 700, 850, 1900 megahertz (MHz)/PCS, AWS 1 and 3 spectrum bands. So why didn’t we bid on the 600 MHz spectrum? We simply don’t need it.

  • The next big technological innovations are coming in 5G to serve the future needs of business, education, government and consumers. Enhanced fixed and mobile broadband, low-latency services and massive IoT scale will thrive on mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum, which is where we are focused for growth. This means more connected services and devices, and higher broadband capacity that can benefit our entire society.
  • We have sufficient spectrum holdings below 1 GHz.

And the future use of 600 MHz spectrum – only good in the U.S. and not globally - will take some time to figure out and deploy widely, especially in busy urban locations.

One competitor spent $8 billion for 600 MHz spectrum to finally acquire a national low-band spectrum position. They need it, desperately. And while they continue to play catch up in 4G, we’ve had the largest national LTE Advanced footprint on 700 MHz spectrum for seven years, and it keeps getting better.

AWS 3 spectrum is already being deployed to augment our AWS 1 assets. We continue to “refarm” our spectrum – moving the use of airwaves to our 4G LTE network from our 3G network where usage has significantly decreased according to plan.

We are investing in the future. We have access to 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum that we will use for 5G. And the fiber we acquired through our XO and Corning transactions are enhancing our current networks with a keen eye toward future needs.

Verizon built a reputation on delivering the best network, hands down. We deliver that experience because we plan for it, and invest in it, month after month, year after year. Our thoughtful technology choices, well-rounded spectrum assets and excellence in execution position us for continued 4G distinction and 5G leadership.

Nicola Palmer is the chief network officer at Verizon Wireless

dave askJuly 2017 Gigabit LTE is real in 2017. So is 5G Massive MIMO. 5G mmWave to fixed antennas is likely 2018, with mobile to follow. China, Japan, Korea, and Verizon U.S. have planned $500B for "5G," with heavy investment expected 2019-2021. 

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Wireless One - W1 replaces in July 2017. Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor.